Road work begins at Bee, Courtenay streets

Now that's some quick service.

Navy veteran Ed Chinnis' letter to the editor decrying the condition of Bee Street near the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center appeared Wednesday in The Post and Courier, and hours later he found himself at a ceremony where city and county officials announced plans to rebuild that very road.

"This has been a terrible road in the middle of town," Chinnis told Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor and other officials assembled at Courtenay Drive and Bee Street. "This is the roughest road I've traveled on in a long time."

Chinnis was pleased to learn Bee Street will be rebuilt, and flooding problems there addressed, as part of a $4.8 million plan to improve roads in the city's hospital district. Courtenay Drive will become one-way southbound from Spring Street to Cannon Street, and widened south of Cannon.

Sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and landscaping will be added or improved.

Gulf Stream Construction Co. was earlier awarded the contract for the road work, which is among the projects funded by the Charleston County half-cent sales tax for transportation and green space.

"It will have a direct impact on our many visitors, employees and students," said Tony Dunbar, director of the Department of Public Safety at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Currently, Bee Street floods whenever there's a heavy rain, and sometimes from high tide alone.

And Courtenay Drive backs up onto Spring Street during morning rush hour -- a situation that should change when the section of Courtenay between Spring and Cannon becomes a one-way street with two lanes.

"This is an especially important project, considering where we are," Riley said Wednesday. "This is a vital hub of life- saving and life-enhancing medical services."

Most of Pryor's comments at project kick-off were drowned out by a passing medical helicopter, but he said the project had been developed with extensive public input and he was excited to see it get started.

Riley noted that the road projects funded by the half-cent tax could help boost the local economy, as the money is used to hire local workers to complete the work.

Any work requiring road closures will be done between 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.