On Tuesday the first of five public hearings will be held on the latest plan to complete the Mark Clark Expressway -- Interstate 526 -- from West Ashley to Johns Island and James Island.

The hearings are part of a two-month public comment period on the $489 million plan and its environmental impact statement.

The current Mark Clark plan is different from earlier versions that called for an elevated, high-speed expressway from the current end of I-526 in West Ashley to the end of the James Island connector at Folly Road. The state's new "recommended preferred alternative," as the plan is known, calls for a ground-level parkway with a pedestrian and bike path, connected by bridges, with speeds between 35 and 45 mph.

The roadway would connect to River Road on Johns Island via two new access roads, but would not connect directly to Maybank Highway as once planned. On James Island the road would connect to several existing roads before reaching the James Island connector.

Some homes in the path of the road would need to be acquired by the state and demolished, including four luxury homes in a small development called Ellis Creek Landing that was created only a few years ago at the end of Riley Road in the town of James Island, before the current highway path was selected.

In most places, the roadway would cross marshes, creeks and a county park, but the state estimates 26 relocations of homes and businesses would be needed.

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:

--Aug. 31 and Sept. 2 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.

The two-month public comment period ends Sept. 30.