Local leaders pushing I-526 completion for hurricane safety

Local leaders pushing I-526 completion for hurricane safety

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Some elected leaders are trying to get I-526 completed because they say it will help with hurricane evacuations.

Areas like Johns and James Islands do not have direct access to I-526, forcing them to take a two lane road to Savannah Highway for evacuation.

The population in the lowcountry has grown tremendously since the last time we had to evacuate with Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Completing the Mark Clark would change the evacuation routes completely.

If you're on Johns Island, you have to take Maybank to Main Road all the way to Savannah Highway. That's a two lane road, a lot of red lights and a lot of people.

"That's a straight interstate way of getting off of those areas and out of that region in a hurry; a critical thing in terms of a hurricane evacuation," said Mary Graham of the Charleston  Chamber of Commerce.

The growth of Johns Island isn't slowing down.

"There are 28,000 housing permits for homes to be built on Johns Island today with or without completing 526,  there's going to be a lot more people living there," said Graham.

An already busy Folly Road is the official evacuation route for Folly beach and James Island. An area with a population of over 35,000 people, all taking the same road to get out of town. Graham says finishing the Mark Clark would completely change the way the lowcountry evacuates.

Last week the State Infrastructure Bank approved to fund the rest of the project.  The Department of Transportation has yet to decide if it wants to take on the project.

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