The state will purchase approximately 15 businesses and one home to make way for the $250 million port access road project in North Charleston, a state highway official said Tuesday.
The cost to acquire the properties will run in the tens of millions of dollars, said DOT Project Manager Jae Mattox.
North Charleston City Council told Mattox to return for another meeting with more information about the affected real estate.
"Council needs to know what property you are trying to get. The community needs to know that," said Councilman Bob King.
In an interview, Mattox said that the affected property owners are aware of the situation.
The port road project needs the City Council's approval to move forward.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State Ports Authority and the DOT have monthly meetings about the project. The Council said that it wants a city representative to attend those meetings.
About 70 tracts of land are needed for the project, Mattox said.
The project will radically change the look of I-26 at about the 218 mile marker where the Spruill Avenue exits are located for westbound traffic.
A three-tiered interchange will rise about 40-feet above the interstate to create the new port access road, which will be about a mile long. The elevated road will gradually slope down to ground level when it reaches the site of the new port terminal, officials said.
Neighborhood changes will include the knitting back together of Union Heights, which was split by the Spruill Avenue ramps when they were built in the 1960s.
Some residents at the meeting wanted to know what will happen to the land when the ramps are torn down, and they hoped it would be used to benefit the community.
Now, traffic traveling west out of Charleston can exit at Spruill Avenue, but vehicles traveling east into Charleston cannot. The new interchange will be accessible from both directions.
As part of the project, the Rosemont neighborhood will get a sound wall, officials said.
A total of $182 million, most of it state funds, has been identified for the new port road. Officials said that the SPA will make up the difference in project cost.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey predicted that costs for the project will rise. "I don't think $250 million is going to do it," he said.
The port road project schedule presented by Mattox calls for construction to begin as early as 2016, with the new port terminal opening in 2019.
The State Ports Authority is in the process of developing a marine container terminal on 288 acres at the south end of the former Charleston Naval Base. The new road will serve the terminal.
The General Assembly approved $172 million for the project.
The federal government is providing $10 million.
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