This evening at the first of five public hearings on the new plan for completing Interstate 526 -- a plan the state had selected from more than three dozen alternatives -- supporters of the concept were scarce and opponents numerous.

Among those in the crowd of roughly 200, dozens offered public comments in the Burke High School auditorium, and most were opposed to the S.C. Department of Transportation's "recommended preferred alternative" for I-526, the Mark Clark Expressway.

Opponents fell into two camps with very different agendas.

One group does not want I-526 extended from West Ashley to Johns Island and James Island. They decried the plan as a terrible waste of money that would harm the environment, force people from their homes, and do little to improve transportation.

The other group opposed to the $489 million plan, which calls for a ground-level parkway with a 45 mph speed limit, traffic lights, and connecting roads, are in favor of completing the Mark Clark but want it to be a high-speed elevated expressway, as was called for in previous plans since the 1970s.

The next hearing is Thursday, also at Burke High School in Charleston, starting at 5 p.m.

See the plans online at www.scdot.org/I526.

Read more in Wednesday's editions of The Post and Courier.