We asked our Facebook readers what they would call the extension of the Mark Clark Expressway. Here are some of the responses:Barrier Islands ParkwayMarchant HighwaySea Islands ParkwayJohns Island ConnectorLowcountry ParkwayPalmetto ParkwayCincinnati ExpresswayStono ExpresswayGo to postandcourier.com to vote on the new name.
The final stretch of the Mark Clark Expressway across Johns and James islands won’t be called Interstate 526.
Jim Armstrong, Charleston County’s director of transportation development, said the road will lose its designation because the last 8 miles of the expressway loop will be built as a 35 mph to 45 mph parkway instead of a traditional interstate.
This came up during an unscheduled update on the project at County Council’s Tuesday meeting. County staffers now are calling the controversial road “the Mark Clark project,” Armstrong said.
He said the loss of the interstate designation does not affect the funding for the project, which now carries an estimated $558 million price tag.
Council approved the completion of what then was called I-526 in December with a 5-4 vote.
Council Chairman Teddie Pryor, a strong supporter of the project, said Tuesday’s update, which was not included on the meeting’s agenda, was held at the request of Councilman Joe Qualey.
Qualey, who voted against the project, said he expects regular updates on its status. The expressway is a huge project and needs oversight, he said. “This is not an effort to delay,” Qualey said. “People need to know and also want to know.”
Councilwoman Colleen Condon asked that staffers send council members a short email every two weeks with a status update.
County Administrator Kurt Taylor said he and other staff members were aware of what needs to be presented to council and what does not. He knows the project is contentious, and plans to provide regular updates to council, he said, but did not commit to doing so every two weeks.
Condon said she would like to be informed about steps taken on the project, even if they don’t require council approval. For instance, staffers now are updating a three-way project contract, known as an intergovernmental agreement, that will include the county, the state Department of Transportation and the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank. When it’s complete, it requires only the signature of County Council’s chairman, she said. But she would like to see the document before it is signed.
Taylor talked to her after the meeting and told her he would regularly update the group, she said. And Condon plans to hold him to it, she said, even if she has to submit requests under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Armstrong said county staffers also have taken other steps to move the long-stalled project forward, including:
Restarting the federal Environmental Impact Statement process.
Requesting the DOT move forward with right-of-way and hardship property acquisitions.
Planning a public information meeting in late April or early May.
Completing survey work on a road that would connect near the intersection of Maybank Highway and River Road on Johns Island.
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.