Charleston’s traffic problems have been at the forefront of recent news, but most of the proposed solutions have been I-26 centric or an assortment of localized road fixes that use valuable road funding in a piecemeal fashion.
To successfully lobby the state for the always limited road funding, we need a strategic outlook toward road and transportation planning, starting with a 10- to 20-year plan that integrates roads into a network of primary roads that will move traffic quickly around the region.
Build I-526 across Johns Island with no interchanges. The only exception might be a road with no ingress/egress from I-526 to Betsy Kerrison Parkway, taking the pressure of Kiawah and Seabrook islands traffic off Johns Island roads. Charleston and James Island traffic will be able to move rapidly to the rest of the Charleston area. Currently, the tail is wagging the dog on I-526 completion.
Don’t spend another dollar widening I-26 since most feeder roads cannot support an increase in traffic volume.
Instead of cramming more traffic into the already crowded I-26 corridor, put the money into extending the Glenn McConnell Parkway from Bees Ferry Road to Ridgeville with limited access, interstate standards and spurs off of I-26 creating parallel avenues into Charleston on opposite sides of the Ashley River.
Combined with I-526, this creates a fast access, alternate route to downtown Charleston — the key to alleviating our traffic congestion.
This plan would take a lot of James Island, West Ashley and downtown traffic off of I-26 and alleviate the cross-river congestion on I-526. A branch could be built off of this new road, connecting to I-95, creating a hurricane evacuation route.
Run the bus system from Summerville to Charleston as a test market for light rail with off-road stations, park-and-ride capability, raised platforms and buses modified for platform level ingress/egress —enabling quicker stops.
Designing roads with a strategic vision of an integrated network moving traffic around the region has a better chance of getting funding and will provide more traffic relief than hotspot projects.
Would our road problems disappear overnight? No, but with each portion of the plan that gets funded we would move toward regional relief.
Jon Regan Walters
Isle of Palms