Town moving ahead with new turn lanes on S.C. Highway 41

Traffic gathers on U.S. Highway 17 approaching Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant. The town voted Monday to proceed with new turn lanes on a busy part of the road.

MOUNT PLEASANT — For those often stuck in rush-hour traffic on S.C. Highway 41, some relief might arrive in as little as two years.

Town Council’s Transportation Committee unanimously recommended Monday that the town proceed with new turn lanes where the highway intersects with Joe Rouse Road.

Assuming council approves the idea next week, that work could be done in about 18 to 24 months, Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said.

Adding new turn lanes will move traffic on the two-lane road somewhat more quickly, but town officials also said they still strongly support a plan to widen the highway to four lanes, from U.S. Highway 17 to the Wando River bridge.

The main issue with that widening is its projected $30 million cost.

The committee was less sure about how to proceed there. Mayor Linda Page and Councilman Paul Gawrych voted to recommend handing the project over to Charleston County, which may be able to fund it soon if it holds a half-cent sales tax referendum next fall — and that referendum passes.

But newly sworn-in Councilman Will Haynie voted against that move and instead preferred the town pursue the widening project itself, at least between U.S. 17 and Joe Rouse Road.

Gawrych said the highway is in “dire straits” and voiced frustration over the state’s inability to fund the work. “I can’t say we’ve exhausted every option in Columbia, but it’s been downright disappointing with the response we’ve gotten from the governor on down,” he said. “We’ve seen nothing but the backs of their heads on this issue.”

Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.

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