Charleston metro area is eighth fastest growing in nation
The Charleston metro region is now the eighth-fastest- growing part of America.
The 10 fastest-growing metro areas from April 1, 2010, to July 1, 2011
1. Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Wash.
2. Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas
3. Hinesville-Fort Stewart, Ga.
4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas
5. Raleigh-Cary, N.C.
6. Warner Robins, Ga.
7. Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, S.C.
9. Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway, S.C.
10. Yuma, Ariz.
From April 2010 to July 2011, the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville community grew by some 17,000 people, the Census Bureau reported Thursday.
Fueling the growth has been the region’s good climate, relatively affordable housing costs and job opportunities, such as at Boeing. But there are also pains that come with absorbing so many in such short a time.
Mayor Bill Collins said that unless the final three miles of the Berlin G. Myers Parkway are completed, linking state Highway 165 and 17A, “we’ll choke to death on traffic.”
Tens of thousands more residents and home sites are expected in the coming decades, he said, making local roads and evacuation routes a priority. One holdup is wetlands mitigation along the proposed extension path.
Mayor Keith Summey said some of the city’s much-needed traffic relief has been realized with the widening of Interstate 26 and Dorchester Road.
One positive in the population growth, he said, is that some of the recent influx has been from retirees who don’t add much burden to city services.
The important thing now is staying ahead in terms of infrastructure planning. “If we don’t, it could catch up on you,” he said.
The Charleston Water System added close to 20,000 customers in the last decade. Today, the utility has 108,500 clean water account customers but by 2030, more than 613,000 are expected to be drinking CWS-provided water.
“The hurdle comes in actually funding the infrastructure and getting it built by the time the growth projections are realized,” said Mark Cline, the water system’s capital projects officer.
Charleston County schools
“Busting at the seams.” That’s how School District Chief Financial Officer Michael Bobby described schools in the three most-pressured growth areas of the county, citing West Ashley, Mount Pleasant and the northeast section of North Charleston. One West Ashley remedy is to utilize 45 acres of land the district purchased next to West Ashley High School.
Dorchester District 2
Allyson Duke, chief financial officer, says enrollment has recently gone up 400 to 500 students a year, and appears to be heading back up toward the 1,000-student-a-year mark again. Some of those students are taught in the district’s 162 trailers.
The Census report “could make a difference on that,” she said Thursday, as the district explores how many more schools and what space allocation it needs short-term and beyond.