Plans for improving Septima Clark Parkway flooded with opposition

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The $10 million grant the City of Charleston recieved from the U.S. Department of Transportation will be put toward improving Septima Clark Parkway downtown. However, the money won't be enough to take care of the area's flooding problem.

"It kind of makes you feel like... are we worthless?" asked local resident Mamie Poole

Poole lives on the corner President Street and Septima Clark Parkway. When it rains, she's right smack in the middle of a flood zone.

"It's like a nightmare," Poole said.

For the last 13 years Poole has been waiting for a flood fix downtown. After applying for a $150 million grant last year, the city was planning on doing just that, but now, after only being awarded 1/15 that amount, priorities changed.

A majority of the money will go into re-paving, landscaping medians and shoulders and adding sidewalks. About 5,600 linear feet of storm drain piping will be added, but won't make a difference when a heavy rain comes in.

"Drainage is a big challenge," says Michael Horton, part of the design team. "It's a large project by scale. The whole project designed is about $150 million."

When that's $140 million more than the city was given, only the first of three phases will get attention.

Laura Cabiness is the Director of Public Service for the City and she said she sees the issue from both sides.

"We want it as much as they want it," Cabiness said. "We're dissappointed too that we can't complete the project."

Cabiness is excited that the City of Charleston will finally be able to start even though the drainage fix still isn't clear.

"This project is the first phase," she said. "It's setting us up to complete a project with tunnels and pump stations but until that work is in there we will still have substainal flooding along the crosstown."

In the next two weeks the city will meet with business owners, schools and mass employers in the surrounding area to also explain the project to them.

Copyright WCSC 2011. All rights reserved.