The recent flooding of the Main Road and Highway 17 intersection on Johns Island should be a wake-up call for all who pretend new roads are unnecessary in this area.
This key intersection will continue to flood, especially in light of a new apartment complex constructed adjacent to Main Road. Even in the best of weather, the many thousands of commercial vehicles using this narrow access to Johns Island daily make it dangerous.
Had Hurricane Fred come to South Carolina, evacuation of Johns and Wadmalaw islands would have been nearly impossible.
Maybank Highway is the only alternative access. It is already severely overcrowded much of the day and will be more congested as new construction is completed close to Folly Road.
Using this one exit in an emergency would make the evacuation crisis in 1999 seem mild. People could be injured or die because of efforts to impede residential and commercial growth that has already occurred. The county would bear the most responsibility.
I am a strong advocate of keeping much of Johns Island rural. The way to maintain rural areas on Johns Island is by agricultural and other land conservation, which the Coastal Conservation League has done successfully in other parts of the Lowcountry. Opposing the extension of I-526 will not remove the thousands of homes that exist or are under way, especially along River Road.
The portion of I-526 from the Savannah Highway to Johns Island is critical to the safety of all on Johns Island and also on James Island, where residents could be locked in by traffic from Johns Island because Main Road is inadequate.
The part of I-526 across James Island, while desirable, is not so critical for the safety of a large population.
It is not only hurricane or natural disaster evacuation that presents risk, but also access for EMS and emergency vehicles that must use the congested Maybank Highway to major medical facilities.
I hope our leaders realize these facts before it is too late.
HAROLD J. FALLON, M.D.
Marsh Edge Lane