Local businesses concerned with Ravenel bridge project

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - A project to improve traffic at the base of the Ravenel bridge on Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant is now getting the red light from some local businesses.

They are concerned about the proposal to prevent drivers that are going south on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard from taking a left turn right before the bridge onto McGrath Darby Boulevard.

From Days Inn, Hampton Inn, Best Western, and more, people have access to several Mount Pleasant hotels and businesses via McGrath Darby Boulevard after turning left from Johnnie Dodds.

"You come to this area where the hotels are on the left, by the time you see them you can't stop, you can't turn left at McGrath Darby in order to access  those hotels, you'd suddenly drive right by and next thing you know you're on the Cooper River bridge," attorney Ben Hagood said.

Hagood is representing Hampton Inn and other businesses who have come together with concerns about blocking the left turn from Johnnie Dodds Boulevard southbound. He says the potential economic impact to the area is $8 million in lost profits and $22 million in lost property value.

"Economic impacts are significant. It would cause significant revenue for the hotels. The economic report shows some businesses might even go out of business," Hagood said.

Right now Charleston County transportation development director Jim Armstrong says exact plans for the Johnnie Dodds and McGrath Darby Boulevards intersection are still being worked out and construction on this part of Johnnie Dodds was supposed to start within a month.

"We certainly believe there is still time to make changes without any delays to the project," Hagood said.

Changing up the Johnnie Dodds and McGrath Darby intersection is all part of a Charleston County project. The $84 million project will widen Johnnie Dodds from four to six lanes, and it is supposed to ease traffic that backs up on the bridge at rush hour.

The Charleston County RoadWise project is to be paid for with the half-cent transportation sales tax. The widening is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

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