By J. Ronald Jones, Jr., Bryan Derreberry, Stuart Whitesides and Mitchell Bohannon

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce advances the quality of life and economic well-being of the region by supporting policies that contribute to the growth of the region and the state as a whole. As the region’s leading private sector organization, the Chamber is comprised of more than 1,850 member businesses and organizations representing more than 75,000 employees locally.

In the fall of 2011, the Chamber formed an Infrastructure Vision Task Force to prioritize the short- and long-term infrastructure needs of the Charleston region. They identified 16 infrastructure projects that need to be prioritized to support our community’s growth and success. One of these includes the I-526 Completion Project. This represents an approximate eight-mile stretch of uncompleted highway that would finally connect the I-526 into the loop it was originally intended to be.

Employers in the region know how critical transportation infrastructure is for not only enabling their workforce to commute to and from work each day but also the critical role of transportation and infrastructure in getting goods and services to market.

The Charleston region has critical transportation needs today and unless we work to find a solution to address them, the issues will only worsen over time.

Currently, areas within and near Johns and James islands are undergoing residential and business development that would require increased infrastructure to support. If the I-526 is not completed, this increased growth and the individuals traveling to and from it, will be crowded onto the already busy surface streets of our neighborhoods. The reality of what our future will be makes it even more necessary that we provide the appropriate infrastructure for new development, and minimize congestion and traffic that the new growth will create.

In addition to alleviating traffic and congestion within our neighborhoods, the completion of I-526 would also represent added convenience for first responders looking to transport injured individuals to and from our area hospitals, or fireman and police trying to reach a resident in need of assistance. The completion would also mean a smoother exit for residents evacuating their homes during inclement weather such as major hurricanes.

The Chamber has set its sights on completing I-526 to bring about positive change to our communities because of the clear benefits: 1) the creation of much needed infrastructure to support economic growth, and 2) the increased safety and convenience it would bring to all. It will also provide an invaluable new transportation artery that eliminates overuse and overcrowding on local roads — again a means of preserving and enhancing the quality of life in this area.

We strongly encourage the community to support this project with us.

J. Ronald Jones, Jr. is chairman of the board for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Bryan Derreberry is president and CEO of the Chamber. Stuart Whitesides is chairman-elect, and co-chair of the Infrastructure Vision Task Force. Mitchell Bohannon is co-chair of the Task Force.