Parking lots, roads and referenda
In the aftermath of the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, advocates of the I-526 extension are citing the traffic problems related to the event as another reason to proceed with the $500 million project.
Of course, there were traffic problems related to the tournament, just as there are traffic problems related to most big-time sporting competitions, and other events, elsewhere.
Indeed, cruise ship passengers have caused tie-ups on the Charleston peninsula, though that so-far-weekly occurrence has been handled short of major road construction.
But any fair assessment of PGA-related congestion should take into account the comments of Capt. Jim Woods of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department following the department’s efforts to improve traffic flow over the weekend. “The roadways have run well,” he said. “The snafus have been in the parking lot.”
That recommends improvements to parking designated for tournament-goers as an inexpensive way to expedite access to another PGA Championship — or maybe a U.S. Open — on Kiawah. Perhaps a commitment is in order for 2019, the next opportunity for another major at the Ocean Course. Promise to shovel gravel onto that muddy expanse next time around.
Meanwhile, Charleston County Council is expected today to take up the controversial I-526 road project, which would cross Johns and James islands, with a referendum request aimed at gauging voter support for it.
Before moving ahead, council should make sure that the language of the ballot question stays between the lines. The last time we looked at the council agenda, the question was stated thus: “Should the Mark Clark Expressway extension/I-526 project be completed with the understanding that the recommended preferred alternative (alternative G) should not be considered and that any municipal consent (pursuant to S.C. Code ann. § 56-5-820) should not be applicable?”
We are hardly legal experts, but a review of the code shows that the enumerated section pertains to people “operating a low speed vehicle on a highway.”
Certainly for those in a hurry, a tractor or a hay wagon can be a problem on rural roads — sometimes on Johns Island. But it’s not the issue at hand.
So maybe the referendum language needs a little work. Like gravel in a parking lot, it would a quick and easy fix. Assuming that’s the ballot question council finally decides to ask.