JOHNS ISLAND — Opponents of completing Interstate 526 across Johns and James islands know their battle will be tougher now that Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is pushing to take over the controversial project.
Nix 526 members said they plan to continue their appeals to County Council members, and will focus on the project’s financial problems, as well as the hardships that building it would cause people and communities.
Dozens of members of the grassroots opposition group gathered at Wesley Methodist Church on Monday to discuss the next steps in the fight. The group has more than 4,000 members on Facebook.
Last week, Charleston City Council voted to ask Charleston County Council to turn over the project to the city. The majority of County Council members have said they are opposed to the project, but it’s not clear how many would vote to turn over to the city at their Dec. 13 meeting.
While Riley and other proponents have said the road is needed to alleviate traffic congestion, opponents say it will make traffic worse.
“It’s a fundamentally flawed road,” said Robin Welch, spokeswoman for Nix 526. The project would not alleviate traffic but promote development and sprawl, she said. Building I-526 to ease problems brought on by development is like “buying new pants to stop obesity,” Welch said.
Johns Island resident Bill Saunders said it’s time for opponents “to recognize who are our enemies.” He includes in that list: Riley, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor and Vice Chairman Elliott Summey, who all support the project.