A $489 million expansion project on a popular stretch of highway in the Lowcountry is receiving much opposition from local officials, residents and environmentalists. Interstate 526 in Charleston takes travelers to the beach on one end and to the west side of Charleston on the other end. With a detailed plan to expand the highway on the West of the Ashley River end, placing a parkway like road, opponents are speaking out.
About 300 people stood up in a final meeting Thursday night on John’s Island to oppose the plan. The Southern Environmental Law Center and the Charleston-based Coastal Conservation League say the extension would harm parts of the city’s wetlands. Some opponents say the nearly half a billion dollars could be better spent widening the stretch of I-26 all the way up to I-95, easing the flow of traffic in the case of a hurricane evacuation.
Those in favor of the I-526 plan say it would improve hurricane evacuation for those on the islands, improve traffic flow, and create potential economic development.