The widening of a portion of Clements Ferry will be an improvement, but is just one step toward alleviating congestion in an area where it's only going to get worse as development moves in, residents said.
"It's going to be a wonderful thing that we build all these beautiful houses, but we have a parking lot," said Henry Skinner of Wando.
About 150 people attended a South Carolina Department of Transportation hearing Monday, where plans were unveiled for the widening of about four miles of Clements Ferry from Interstate 526 to Jack Primus Road.
The project will end near Cainhoy Plantation, 9,000 acres straddling Clements Ferry Road that could one day be home to 20,000 people. In addition, Berkeley County School District is planning to open nearby a new school for kindergarten through 8th graders in August 2016 and a high school the following year.
"I am delighted to see (the widening) going from 526 to Cainhoy, but we've still have to make the road complete," said Robert "Rabbit" Lockwood of Huger. "Traffic is not good now and it's just going to be worse and worse."
The project is part of a seven-year, 1-cent sales tax program that was approved by Berkeley County voters in 2008.
Plans originally called for a second phase that would widen Clements Ferry all the way to Highway 41, but that project has been nixed due to a lack of funding, Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis said.
"We only had enough money to do Phase 1," he said. "This 1-cent program runs out in 2015 and we can renew it ... It is our intention to put Phase 2 in the second issue. I would encourage you, when we do finally have that referendum, to vote in favor of it."
Phase 1 is a $22 million project that calls for widening the current three-lane road to five lanes with a 15-foot raised median from Jack Primus to Charleston Regional Parkway. From the parkway to the causeway over the marsh will be five lanes with a 15-foot two-way turn lane that will then transition into four lanes with a four-foot raised median to 526.
A 10-foot multi-use path will run along the entire length on the east side.
The the project also includes improvements such as turn lanes and traffic signals, but some property owners said the plans are inadequate.
Robert Porcher Jr. of Wando said the plan does not allow for left turns from side streets onto Clements Ferry.
"There will be no means for me to make a left turn and if I have to make a right turn, how far do I have to go down before I come back up the street?" he asked.
Dennis Avery of the Avery Company, representing owners of a planned development called Governor's Cay on the northeast side of Clements Ferry near 526, agreed that the plans will not adequately handle turning traffic.
The mixed-use community will include residences, hotels and retail space, but drivers will only be allowed to turn right into and out of the area. They will be required to drive about a half mile further on Clements Ferry before making a U-turn back toward 526.
"What we need is a full intersection that has signals to allow the development of the property in a proper manner," he said.
All comments from the meeting will be evaluated and included in the project record, officials said.
Plans call for acquiring rights-of-way from about 60 landowners starting this summer.
Construction is set to begin in early 2016 and take about two years, officials said.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.
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