Widening on IOP gets 'thumbs-up'

MOUNT PLEASANT -- A plan to widen about a mile of the Isle of Palms connector to relieve traffic congestion received generally favorable reviews at a public meeting Wednesday night.

The primary problem the project addresses is gridlock at the intersection of the connector and Rifle Range Road. When that happens in the summer, traffic leaving Isle of Palms backs up all the way to the island, officials said.

"This is going to improve traffic on the weekends. If there's one drop of rain everyone packs up their beach towels and leaves then. It's just a bottleneck," Isle of Palms City Councilwoman Barbara Bergwerf said.

The connector improvements would include widening the road from two lanes to four lanes from just above Rifle Range Road on the island side of the connector to just past Hungry Neck Boulevard toward U.S. Highway 17. The connector intersection at Rifle Range Road would be redesigned so there are two through lanes and two turn lanes.

"This is thumbs-up," Cathy McGinn said of the design. "I think it's good. I really think it's going to help," she said.

About 50 people attended an informational meeting at Whitesides Elementary School to see engineering drawings of the project and provide their written comments.

Charleston County RoadWise is funding the road work. So far, about $100,000 has been allocated for design.

The Ilse of Palms asked the town of Mount Pleasant to include the project in the RoadWise program.

"This is really about Rifle Range and the congestion there," said Richard Turner, a construction project manager for the county.

The connector has an average of 16,000 vehicles daily, he said.