SUMMERVILLE — Responding to complaints of increasingly crowded roads and more time spent sitting in traffic, Dorchester County is working on a plan that could spell relief.

It would be the first time the county has ever come up with a comprehensive traffic plan, despite the fact that it's been the fastest-growing county in the state for the last several years.

About 30 residents met Wednesday for a workshop to start hammering out the details. It's one of several meetings that the county's traffic consultants will hold over the next several months.

The county hired Kimley-Horn and Associates of Raleigh to come up with a transportation plan for the next couple of decades. The plan is expected to be finished next summer.

"Public involvement is the key to success," Allison Fluitt, one of the consultants, said at the workshop.

Participants gathered around maps to mark the worst problems, such as Dorchester Road between Bacon's Bridge Road and U.S. Highway 17, and S.C. Highway 165 between U.S. 17 and S.C. 61.

Paying for new roads as state money continues to shrink will be a major challenge, consultant Mike Rutkowski said.

The consultants will study charging developers impact fees on new houses to pay for more roads, but impact fees can't be used to solve existing problems, he said.

On the other hand, if Congress approves an economic stimulus plan that includes road money, Dorchester County has a list of $450 million worth of projects that would qualify, Administrator Jason Ward said.

The county has given the list to the local congressional delegation, Council Chairman Jamie Feltner said.

"I don't like bailouts, and I don't like debt, but if they're going to start giving out money, I want to make sure Dorchester County gets its share," Feltner said.

The consultants also will study ways to reduce traffic on existing arteries. That includes looking at trains to keep trucks from overwhelming Interstate 26 if the port expands and new warehouses or industries move into the upper part of the county, which is a key component of the comprehensive plan council approved in November, Rutkowski said.

Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or dmunday@postandcourier.com.