Most Sea Island residents against proposed I-526 extension

By Sheldon Dutes  bio | email | Twitter 

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Driving to and from Johns and James Islands could soon get a lot easier. The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is considering a plan that would make Interstate 526 more accessible to people who live or work on those islands.

Project managers are considering an extension of I-526 from it's current end point on Savannah Highway to stretch toward Johns and James Islands.

As SCDOT moves forward with the plans, they want to hear input from the public to get a pulse of how they people about the development. On Monday night, approximately 200 people gathered at Burke High School to meet with project managers and share their opinions.

With the help of posters, maps and other visual demonstrations SCDOT officials explained the potential impact of the proposed completion of the Mark Clark Expressway.

The end of I-526 would extend from Savannah Highway across the Stono River onto Johns Island with connector roads at River Road. It would then cross onto James Island and connect at the end of the James Island Connector. The $489 Million proposed plan would also have paths for bikes and pedestrians.

"Charleston County made an application to the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB). We leveraged the funds from the 1/2 Cent Sales Tax and the SIB agreed to fund the project," said Charleston Transportation Sales Tax Chief Steven Thigpen.

Shortly after the open house, people had the chance to voice their concerns on the proposed plan.

Dawn Congdon lives on James Island and is concerned about the potential impact of the Mark Clark Expressway.

"It's going to ruin our quality of life, our serenity," Congdon said.

Other residents told SCDOT they're worried about the environment, their property values and traffic congestion.

"You're going to have people dumping more traffic, more development and more traffic gridlock. Kids could get injured trying to cross the road," Congdon said.

While Congdon and others voiced their opinions, a stenographer kept notes. SCDOT is committed to receiving public input, and plan to incorporate those opinions into future adjustments.

If you couldn't make it out to Monday's meeting, four others are scheduled: Sept. 2 at Burke High School, Sept. 7 at West Ashley High, Sept. 8 at James Island Charter School and Sept. 9 at St. John's High School. Each meeting starts at 5 p.m.

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