The Department of Transportation has unveiled a plan for a Lowcountry Interstate 526 extension. The Department of Transportation and county officials will hear from the public in two hearings held August 31 and September 2.
The busy route for tourist and local traffic runs through Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond’s district, who says an extension would be a bonus for the area.
“A lot of these road projects really are about trying to get a compromised solution in place. It’s not perfect in moving traffic very quickly. Now we are doing 35 and 45 miles an hour, but it also now encompasses a lot of things people are interested in in regards to alternative ways of getting from one place to another, or encouraging people to get out and walk, or run, or ride bikes, etc.”
The extension would create and additional four-lane parkway running from West Ashley to Johns Island, to the James Island Connector. It would also have bike lanes and a pedestrian walkway, creating a low-speed ordinance. Thurmond says he sees the project being completed, but it is still in its preliminary stages. Next, they need to hear from the public.
There are things in this plan that, to me, really allow for a lot of people to look at it and say it’s a step in a good direction. I think it’s ultimately going to be built. I think it should be about a compromise and about getting together, and trying work out some differences. So, I’m encouraged by it, but we are going to listen to the public some more and try and make sure we are making the best decision possible.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says he’s pleased with the plan, but just across the river, James Island Mayor Mary Clark opposes.
The reason we passed a resolution not to complete it was because the people, the majority of the people who contacted the town, did not want it. Then, the environment, as well. It goes through a lot of marsh. Then, Johns Island- it’s almost the death now of rural Johns Island, if you put this through there.
Clark says extending 526 through James Island would be intrusive and bring more traffic to the island.