SUMMERVILLE — Scott Herring walks his white boxer, King, along a wooded, makeshift trail that begins where Bear Island Road ends.
For years, plans have been in the works to extend the dead-end road. But Herring, who moved to the adjacent Vista Sands Apartment complex from rural Ridgeville, would rather have a nature trail than an extended roadway near his residence.
“Leave a little country in the city,” he said Tuesday.
Herring is one of several residents opposed to the $4 million Bear Island Road extension project which is running nearly two years behind schedule.
Russ Cornette, town engineer and director of Public Works, said the project has been delayed again as the town awaits permit approvals, including one from the Army Corps of Engineers. That can be difficult since the permit regulates development near wetlands.
Making headway on the Bear Island Road plan — an extension of Berlin G. Myers Parkway through the Weatherstone subdivision to connect with Nexton Parkway — has been tough.
The project received early opposition in 2015 from Weatherstone residents who did not want traffic near their homes. Mayor Wiley Johnson's early opposition to the project helped him win the 2015 mayoral election.
Weatherstone resident Homer Gonzalez filed a lawsuit against the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control after the agency approved the town's project, but the case was dismissed in October 2017. Still, the lawsuit put the town's permit application back at the bottom of permit review pile that the Army Corps sifts through.
Cornette said the Army Corps is spread thin with a heavy workload, but he anticipates all Bear Island permits will be approved by the end of the year with construction to begin in early 2019.
Residents who are frustrated about traffic are anxious for the project to make haste.
Marion Pyatt moved to Summerville in 2000 and remembers when it took 25 minutes to trek down North Main Street on a Saturday. Pyatt is pleased with the results of the Nexton Interchange which opened last spring to provide another route for commuters between U.S. Highway 17 and Ineterstate 26. But he's still eager for another road project that would help the town's traffic woes.
"I'm all for it," Pyatt said of the Bear Island Road extension. "Anything to alleviate traffic."
Progress with another Summerville road project may be even more delayed. On the opposite end of the parkway, plans for the final 3-mile stretch, which would link Carolina Avenue to U.S. 17A, have been stalled since 2009 because of permitting and opposition from local property owners and conservation groups.
Cornette said that the initiative is "moving forward," but he doesn't expect construction to begin until fall 2019 or early 2020.