One of the first major transportation projects envisioned in the Rethink Folly Road plan is picking up momentum.
Charleston County is applying for a grant from the Charleston Area Transportation Study committee to fund the majority of a $16 million project to build a bike and pedestrian path along Folly Road from the Ellis Creek bridge to Sol Legare Road.
Governments with jurisdiction on James Island have pledged matching funds to cover 20 percent of the project if the application is approved. The town of James Island and the city of Charleston have committed $400,000 each, and the county would pay $2 million from the half-cent sales tax fund.
"This will go a long way towards bringing reality to the Rethink Folly Road plan," said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg when City Council approved the funding on Dec. 19.
The Rethink Folly Road plan, developed in early 2016 by Dover, Kohl & Partners with the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, was designed to revitalize the island's commercial strip by making more room on the street for pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation.
Existing bike lanes and sidewalks on Folly Road are sparse and disconnected. Residents over the course of several public hearings during the planning process said pedestrian safety is one of their main concerns on Folly Road.
The proposed 4.4-mile stretch along the west side of the road would be the longest connected pathway for bikers and walkers on James Island's main commercial corridor. It would connect nearby neighborhoods to businesses, churches and restaurants on Folly Road.
The project also would add up to three new shelters at bus stops along the road.
A 12-foot multi-use path for pedestrians and bikers could be created for the whole route, which is estimated to cost about $16 million. The cheaper option, about $10.4 million, is to implement the multi-use path only in the stretches that don't already have bike lanes. In the areas with bike lanes, the county would add sidewalks.
The work would be accomplished in five sections.
- Ellis Creek Bridge to Prescott Street: A bike lane runs adjacent to traffic lanes, but sidewalks are sparse. The work here will expand on the county's ongoing intersection improvement at Folly and Camp roads, which includes new bike and pedestrian facilities.
- Prescott Street to George L. Griffith Boulevard: The bike lane continues alongside vehicular traffic, but sidewalks only exist in front of the Queensborough Shopping Center and a bank building.
- George L. Griffith Boulevard to the Grimball and Fort Johnson roads intersection: The entire segment has sidewalks but no bike lanes. The only option here is a multi-use path.
- Grimball and Fort Johnson roads to Rafeal Lane: There are no bike lanes or sidewalks, so a multi-use path is also the only option in this segment.
- Rafael Lane to Sol Legare Road: A bike lane runs alongside traffic, but there are no sidewalks.
From the design phase to construction, the full project is expected to take 22-33 months. That means if it's begun in 2018, it would be completed no sooner than the end of 2020.