Charleston County begins $2 million in road projects for Johns Island
Johns Island residents for years have been begging Charleston County to fix local roads before building new ones.
And county leaders have begun to listen to them.
County Council late last month approved about $2 million for several projects, which consist largely of road widening and adding turn lanes. The improvements would help traffic flow better, county leaders have said.
Jim Armstrong, assistant county administrator for transportation, said county leaders became aware of road problems on Johns Island in 2010, when they were reviewing a proposal for the Sea Island Greenway. The controversial greenway would bisect Johns Island while more efficiently bringing traffic to the resort islands of Kiawah and Seabrook.
Since then, Armstrong said, county leaders have been looking for the money to pay for Johns Island road improvements.
They found that money this year. It came from what remained from three other completed road projects: the paving of Davis Road; improvements to the intersection of S.C. Highway 61 and Glendale Drive; and improvements to Bee Street and Courtenay Drive.
One of those Johns Islands projects already is finished, Armstrong said, which included building a right turn lane from Maybank Highway to River Road.
Another project, which included temporary improvements to the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Main Road, also is complete.
That intersection marks one of the entry points to Johns Island. Money for that project came from the county’s fiscal year 2013 allocation for road projects.
“We are trying to expedite the design for the other projects as fast as we can,” Armstrong said. But county staffers don’t have a specific deadline for finishing them.
Johns Island resident Bill Saunders said residents of Johns and Wadmalaw islands are pleased that progress is being made on local roads. “But there were all kinds of things we had to do to get to this point.”
Residents pushed hard for road improvements, he said, and they still didn’t get all the projects they proposed to the county.
And he’s suspicious of the county’s timing. He thinks one of the reasons county leaders approved the road improvements was to placate Johns and Wadmalaw residents during the upcoming PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, and so they could push other projects, such as the completion of Interstate 526 and the Sea Island Greenway.
Those large road projects are controversial among Johns and Wadmalaw island residents, many of whom think they would promote sprawl and ruin the islands’ rural character, Saunders has said.
Supporters of those projects say they would relieve traffic congestion on all Johns Island roads, making them safer and easier to travel.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491.