CHARLESTON — The public will get to express its opinion on design plans for the last link in a major expressway on the South Carolina coast.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation on Tuesday holds the first of two public hearings on plans to complete the Mark Clark Expressway around Charleston.

The department has proposed a lower speed parkway to connect the James Island connector west of Charleston with I-526 which continues on to Mount Pleasant.

The parkway will complete an 8-mile gap between the existing expressways.

The proposal calls for a four-lane parkway with a median and speeds between 35 and 45 mph. It’s projected to cost about $489 million.

All five of the public meetings will begin with an open house at 5 p.m. followed by a presentation with an opportunity for comments at 6 p.m. The meetings will be held:

-Today and Thursday at Burke High School, 244 President St., in downtown Charleston.

--Sept. 7 at West Ashley High School, 4060 W. Wildcat Blvd.

--Sept. 8 at James Island Charter High School, 1000 Fort Johnson Road.

--Sept. 9 at St. John's High School, 1518 Main Road, Johns Island.

Copies of the draft environmental impact statement are available for public review at the following locations: Department of Transportation District 6 Office; Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments office; Charleston County Department of Transportation Development; and four Charleston County Public Library branches, including the main branch in downtown Charleston and those on Johns Island, James Island and in West Ashley.

Comments on the plan also can be submitted by clicking "Contact Us" on the project website, scdot.org/i526, by calling the project hot line at 888-MCE-I526, or by mail to SCDOT at P.O. Box 191, Columbia, S.C. 29202-0191.