Motorists along parts of increasingly crowded Interstate 526 could get some relief down the road with nearly $38 million in improvements included in a new transportation spending plan for the tri-county area.
Other road spending
Harbor View Road
U.S. Highway 78
Traffic signal system improvements
S.C. Highway 41
The idea is to upgrade the choke points that clog traffic where I-526 meets International Boulevard in North Charleston, and in West Ashley at the highway's intersection with U.S. Highway 17 and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.
The state Department of Transportation asked the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments to budget $37.6 million in 2018 and 2019 toward the I-526 projects, said Dan Frazier, senior planner for the council.
"This money is for capacity improvements, and includes not-yet-designed improvements at interchanges, as well as re-configuring of on- and off-ramps," Frazier said in an email. The bulk of the money, he said, would go to improving the ramps.
The Charleston Area Transportation Study Policy Committee on Monday approved funding the I-526 project and other road work in the Transportation Improvement Plan for 2014-19.
CHATS, composed of leaders from across the tri-county area, oversees much of the transportation planning for the area. Funding for the 2014-19 transportation plan is a mix of federal, state and local money.
Berkeley County received $23 million for a Clements Ferry Road widening project and about $5 million for improvements to College Park Road.
"Berkeley County met the requirements for funding because we had eligible projects already in progress," said county Supervisor Dan Davis. "This will allow us to expand the scope of our transportation sales tax program."
The project will help enhance the 1-cent sales tax program approved by voters in 2008 to fund road projects, he said.
About four miles of Clements Ferry Road will be widened from Interstate 526 to Jack Primus Road. Work is scheduled to begin in early 2016.
The College Park project involves widening about 2.3 miles from the existing five-lane section to U.S. 17A, adding a path for bicycles and pedestrians.
In Dorchester County, $4.2 million was allotted in 2015 for Berlin G. Myers Parkway construction, which will receive $5 million in 2017.
Current projects underway in the Summerville area include the Dorchester Road widening project, which is behind schedule and will take another two months, at best, before all four lanes can be opened.
Rain and two ice storms last month have kept crews from finishing various stages on the project, and each remaining stage depends on getting the one before it done, said Donnie Dukes, of Davis and Floyd, the engineers.
"Everything is moving as fast as we can," Dukes said. "We do know the contractors are doing everything they can."
The 5-mile-long, $24 million project, which started in June 2011, had an original projected completion date of November 2013.
Weather, slow relocation of utilities and poor roadbed installation that has to be replaced have delayed it.
Meanwhile, this spring, the twin drawbridges over the Ashley River that are a gateway to Charleston from West Ashley will be getting a new paint job.
The Wappoo Creek bridge also will be painted as part of that project.
On Tuesday, the DOT received an apparent low bid of $1.5 million for the work from the Warren, Ohio, firm Adelphi Inc., agency spokesman Pete Poore said.
"Nothing like a good paint job," said state Bridge Maintenance Engineer Lee Floyd.
He said traffic could be slowed at night by the operation, which involves blasting off the old, possibly lead-based paint in a way that will not contaminate the environment.
"I'm treating it as if it has lead on it," Floyd said.
The project will go before the DOT Commission for approval in April. It will be finished in June, he said.
It has been at least a decade since the bridges were painted, he said.
Bo Petersen of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.
Berkeley County has announced the Charleston Area Transportation Study Policy Committee has granted funding for two road projects. They are the widening of Clements Ferry Road and improvements to College Park Road.×