A long-planned loop road at the intersection of Bees Ferry Road and Glenn McConnell Parkway in West Ashley should be under construction starting Monday morning, Charleston County officials said.
It's called the West Ashley Circle, but it's not quite a circle - more like an eyeball shape. The idea for the transportation project has been around since 2001, and was originally called Bees Ferry Circle.
The 4-lane road with an 8-foot sidewalk will create access for new development along Bees Ferry Road and Glenn McConnell Parkway. The first quarter of the circle was built years ago, and primarily provides a route to a Wal-Mart store located there.
The circle is also meant to relieve traffic at the busy intersection, and to eventually provide a new way for Grande Oaks residents to get in and out of their subdivision.
The $7 million project is funded by Charleston County's half-percent transportation sales tax. A $5 million construction contract was awarded last year to Banks Construction, which also handled the Bees Ferry Road widening project.
Steve Thigpen, Charleston County's chief program engineer for transportation development, said the early phases of the circle project won't cause any traffic disruption, because it involves building roads in what is now a wooded area.
"There's no traffic where we are working," he said. "When we do get ready to connect to Glenn McConnell and Bees Ferry, we will do that work at night."
The existing section of the loop road connects to Bees Ferry, and there are traffic signals there. The new sections will create another intersection at Bees Ferry, with a new set of traffic signals.
Longer-term plans call for a new road that would connect the West Ashley Circle to Grande Oaks Boulevard, at private expense, providing residents of that subdivision with access to the circle and new access to Bees Ferry Road.
Another plan that's been discussed for many years calls for extending Glenn McConnell Parkway, which ends at Bees Ferry Road. An extension was planned as part of a large development called Long Savannah, but that development plan failed during the housing market crash and no construction was done.
Thigpen said that, while the county government is not involved with a plan to extend the Glenn McConnell, the circle will be constructed with the possible extension in mind.
"This would not hamper a future plan to do that (extension)," he said.
The West Ashley Circle is scheduled to be finished by September 2015.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552