Simmering frustration over the stalled Maybank Highway project could end up bringing much-needed relief to another problem area for motorists - the daily traffic snarl at Folly and Camp roads.
First, though, Charleston County Council must decide whether to go along with its transportation staff recommendation on the issue. If that happens, funding for the James Island project would double to $13 million. Funds for the Maybank work would be cut in half to $15 million.
Councilman Joe Qualey, a James Island resident, said the project at Folly and Camp roads is long overdue and has been on the books for 15 years.
It includes widening of Folly and Camp at the intersection to provide new designated turn lanes. Four-foot-wide bicycle lanes, five-foot-wide sidewalks and upgraded stoplights including pedestrian signals will be added.
"I have been very vocal about James Island projects not getting adequate attention. I've been frustrated and angry," he said.
Spending of federal funds for the Maybank project has been stalled amid state and federal concerns about project design, according to a county summary on the issue posted on the web.
A scaled-backed Maybank makeover proposal includes repaving the vital Johns Island artery from Bohicket and Main roads to River Road. Four-foot-wide bike lanes would be added. From River Road to the Stono River Bridge, parallel lanes on either side of Maybank, a so-called "pitchfork" design, would provide two new connections between Maybank and River Road. And a second inbound lane from the Stono River Bridge to Johns Island is under consideration.
County officials anticipate a down-sized Maybank project, which originally was budgeted at $30 million, can be designed, permitted and constructed with $15 million in county half-percent sales tax funds already allocated.
Some $6.5 million in additional funds for the James Island project could be pulled from $15 million in federal funds that county officials recommend for reassignment from the Maybank project.
The shifting of road money is recommended because the county wants to put dollars where they can be most effective.
County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said the federal government would not allow use of its funds for the pitchfork design, so the funds will be used on other projects, he said.
The county matches federal funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis, he said.
Pryor said sending the $15 million from the Maybank Highway project to other road work avoids losing the money altogether. Still to be decided is how to spend the remaining $8.5 million.
The issue is on the agenda Thursday for a meeting of the Charleston County Council Finance Committee, a "committee of the whole" on which every council member serves.
At a hearing last month, federal design standards for Maybank Highway improvements met with little public support from those who said the requirements were not in keeping with the community. Among them was a "widening alternative" that could mean making the two-lane road four lanes.
The Finance Committee meeting is at the Lonnie Hamilton Public Services Building on Bridge View Drive in North Charleston. It will begin immediately after a meeting of the Planning/Public Works Committee that starts at 5 p.m.
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