There's a new road to happiness in North Charleston.
With the recent opening of a 1.2-mile stretch of Patriot Boulevard between Wescott Boulevard and Palmetto Commerce Parkway, the suburban road now runs all the way from Dorchester Road to the parkway, providing a much-needed alternative route to heavily congested Dorchester Road.
For North Charleston residents such as Stephanie Fletcher who lives in The Farm at Wescott Plantation, it's a godsend.
"When we go to the Upstate to visit relatives, it saves us half an hour," she said.
Fletcher, her husband and children used to take Wescott Boulevard to Dorchester Road and then turn right onto Ladson Road to get to Interstate 26.
"On Friday afternoon when we would leave, the traffic would be backed up a long way at that right turn (onto Ladson Road)," she said.
Now, they leave their home, take the short new stretch of Patriot Boulevard, which was called Future Drive on maps before it was built, to Palmetto Commerce Parkway, which empties onto Ladson Road.
"It's much faster," she said.
On the other end of Patriot Boulevard, a newly completed small section that just opened between Club Course Drive and Appian Way, provides Fletcher a faster route to her West Ashley job as well.
"It used to take me 25 minutes just to get out of the neighborhood onto Dorchester Road," she said. "Now, it takes about five minutes to get to Dorchester Road at the Bosch plant."
Before the small section between Club Course Drive and Appian Way was completed, she had to either take Wescott Boulevard or Patriot Boulevard to Club Course Drive to get onto Dorchester Road in the morning.
"It took forever to turn left there (at Club Course Drive)," she said. "The light would change three times before you could turn because there was so much traffic in the morning going downtown."
Fletcher and her family first took the new northern section of Patriot Boulevard during the Thanksgiving holiday.
"They were opening and closing it for awhile," she said. "I guess it's been open for about a month."
The new road is part of a plan to connect the new neighborhoods in the Dorchester County section of North Charleston with the planned extension of Palmetto Commerce Parkway to Ashley Phosphate Road in Charleston County.
"I think people are just learning that it's all the way through," Mayor Keith Summey said.
Through trucks are not allowed and eventually, the entire road, now two lanes, will be four lanes from Ashley Phosphate Road to Palmetto Commerce Parkway, he said.
"I think it's going to be a lot of help long-term," the mayor said.