SC DOT and Charleston County clash over Mark Clark project

The James Island Connector (foreground) terminates at Folly Road (running through center of photo).

Charleston County is rejecting the S.C. Transportation Secretary’s insistence that the Mark Clark Expressway project should be either completed as proposed, or sent back to the drawing board.

The county had asked the state to consider different alternatives for the expressway, including improvement to existing roads and the “new way to work” concept proposed by the Coastal Conservation League, which also focused on local roads rather than completing the highway.

“It is unacceptable that the Department (of Transportation) simply refuses to look more closely at those alternatives,” County Administrator Allen O’Neal said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Buck Limehouse.

The county also had asked the department to evaluate a new proposal to extend the expressway from West Ashley to Johns Island only, while also expanding roads to Kiawah and Seabrook islands. Limehouse rejected that idea, saying it didn’t meet the stated goals associated with the road funding.

The state’s preferred alternative for the highway is a $489 million parkway from West Ashley to Johns Island and James Island, with a bike path and ground-level connections to existing roads.

O’Neal said in his letter that the county disagrees with Limehouse’s position that extending I-526 only to Johns Island would not meet the project goals, and reiterated the county’s position that SCDOT should evaluate the proposed alternative. The county believes extending the highway only to Johns Island, which would reduce the cost and address some opposition to the project, would improve traffic on James Island as well.

Read more in Sunday’s editions of The Post and Courier