West Ashley homeowners growing weary with Highway 61 traffic

WEST ASHLEY, SC (WCSC) - Frustrating and unsafe.

That's how West Ashley homeowner Sue Neill described the simple task of crossing the street.

"You're taking your life in your hands," she said.

ShadowMoss, MacLaura Hall, Arbor Trace and Schieveling Plantation were among the communities represented in a Homeowner's Association meeting with the State Department of Transportation.

Homeowners voiced safety concerns with growing traffic along Highway 61, and fielded questions to City of Charleston Police and SCDOT District Administrator Robert Clarke.

"This is a populated area where people want to get out, and live life, and do things," said Neill.  "They are simply not able to do that safely because we do not have the infrastructure there to allow us to do it."

Neighbors complained of excessive speeding and insufficient traffic lights along the city's historic highway.  The historic label prevents any major changes to Highway 61, which includes a major widening project.  Neighbors say, that's not the answer.

"It's going to take some creative thinking, thinking outside the box, to figure out a way how to handle this traffic."

According to City of Charleston police, five officers throughout the city are assigned to traffic patrol.  Police say data collected from the area does not show a speeding problem, a theory refuted by homeowners who say the averages don't tell the real story.

One homeowner in Thursday's meeting spoke of six collisions he's witnessed over a nine year period.  Others voiced even more close calls.

"We don't want to make this situation worse, but we as a city can do better," said Rep. Dean Riegel, of Charleston City Council District 10.

Riegel proposed using school resource officers to serve as crossing guards near Drayton Hall Elementary, one of the areas where residents voiced safety concerns.

"It's going to take some creative thinking, thinking outside the box, to figure out a way how to handle this traffic," added Sue Neill.

"There's lots of work to be done to bring West Ashley up to snuff."

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