Johns Island Traffic (copy)

At rush hour, this traffic light at Maybank Highway and River Road is what ultimately leads to the traffic backup on the Stono River Bridge. The pitchfork plan would give motorists two new roads to get to and from River Road, so they wouldn't necessarily have to wait for this light. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

A Johns Island landowner is seeking new city zoning for a large new development near Maybank Highway and River Road, one of the island’s busiest intersections.

For island residents, traffic congestion ranks as a top concern, so the developer offered to shape the project to accommodate a new road — known as the southern pitchfork — that would run from Maybank to River just south of Maybank.

Councilman Marvin Wagner, who represents Johns Island, said: "Bottom line, that is the most congested area on Johns Island without that pitchfork. This project will add another 5,000 to 7,000 cars to an already congested area."

Wagner said he wants to make sure things are straightened out with the county before council signs off on the project.

It’s unclear if the pitchfork will be built. Charleston County has no money set aside for it, spokesman Shawn Smetana said.

"The southern pitchfork is not on a county priority list due to the lack of funding," Smetana said. The project previously was estimated at about $7.5 million.

Smetana also said there is no timeline to place the southern pitchfork project back on the county's priority list.

It's unclear if the county would be interested in taking that step, particularly since it has recommitted to finishing the last leg of Interstate 526 from Citadel Mall to James Island. The road, which is expected to require more than $300 million of county transportation sales tax money to finish, will run near River and Maybank.

Meanwhile, Charleston City Council members are expected to consider the development Tuesday, specifically a request to rezone about 70.6 acres to allow for 116 units initially, and ultimately 798 units. The city's current zoning allows for 841 units.

The project would allow for commercial and residential development, as well as green space that includes historical spaces preservation of headstones and indigo vats on the site. 

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Reach Mikaela Porter at 843-937-5906. Follow her on Twitter @mikaelaporterPC. 

Mikaela Porter joined The Post and Courier in April 2019, covering the City of Charleston and quality of life issues. Previously, Mikaela reported on breaking news, local government, school issues and community happenings for The Hartford Courant.

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