People want safe walking, biking on Folly Road

File/staff Folly Road needs to be made safer for bikers, walkers and drivers, a consultant said Wednesday during a presentation for a $500,000 study on how the road can be improved

Folly Road is not safe for walkers or bikers and driving it is a frustrating, sometimes scary experience, the public feels.

Those were some of the findings of an ongoing $500,000 study aimed at coming up with solutions to fix the problems. The results were presented Wednesday night by a consultant during a meeting on James Island that attracted about 100 people.

The presentation prepared by Dover, Kohl & Partners included renderings of what some of the improvements would look like. They showed wide sidewalks and bike paths that were separated from the busy highway by trees.

The road has a designated bike lane but many said it is a hair-raising experience to use because the lane is part of the highway and next to cars going 50 miles per hour plus. Pedestrians said crossing the highway is dangerous.

The consultant showed images of a park-and-ride “Folly Trolley” with a dedicated lane to the beach. There were depictions of sidewalks and bike lanes next to restaurants offering outdoor dining. Proposals included a roundabout at Fort Johnson Road, Folly Road and Grimball Road instead of the current traffic light.

Residents want to be able to move about with greater ease through better connections between streets and properties, according to the presentation.

“Something needs to be done. I’m not sure if this is the solution but at least they are trying,” said Marti Watts.

Ron Zeigli said the ideas were great but he wondered how they would be funded. “The bottom line is where’s the money?” he said.

The average annual daily traffic on the road ranges from 43,000 at the north end near Maybank Highway to 9,300 near the beach, officials said.

The Town of James Island, the cities of Charleston and Folly Beach and Charleston County are working together on the study along with the state Department of Transportation, the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments.

The study is called “Rethink Folly Road: A Complete Streets Study.”

No decisions have been made on which improvements to try to implement. The study addresses conditions from Center Street on Folly Beach to the Wappoo Creek bridge.

A final study report is expected by the end of the year. A draft will be issued in August.