Public opinion wanted for Folly Road improvement

JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Almost half a million dollars is being spent to get your opinion on fixing Folly Road. The local Council of Governments, often called COG, has just approved $400,000 to fund public meetings and plan for improving the busy roadway on James Island.

Katie Zimmerman, with the Coastal Conservation League, is one of several "rethinking folly road" from Center Street to the Wappoo Cut Bridge.

Federal highway funds allocated from the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments' CHATS partnership will jump start the discussions. Charleston County is also matching that up to $100,000, according to COG.

"It's going to be spent specifically on developing a vision for Folly Road," said Zimmerman.

The money is being used to hire an urban planning consultant, host public meetings and draft a plan.

"this seemed to be the one area that everybody agreed we've got to fix," said Zimmerman.

Leaders from Charleston County, City of Charleston, James Island and the Town of Folly Beach are all involved.

SC Department of Transportation and CARTA are also in support of improving Folly Road.

"It's not what it could be," said Zimmerman. "People are very interested, so it's going to take a while to make sure everyone who wants to be heard is heard."

Planners expect to hear requests for better bike and pedestrian lanes, as well as making it a prettier drive to the beach.

A big focus of this plan is also finding out a way to cut down on the traffic coming to Folly Beach. Planners say sometime in the future they hope to add an additional lane to Folly Road for CARTA buses. Zimmerman says they feel this is an effective way to get more cars off the road and more beach goers to Folly Beach in an easy, affordable and safe way.

"This is a really great opportunity for everybody to rally around something that desperately needs to be fixed," said Zimmerman.

Planners hope that not just James Island resident attend these public meetings but also beach goers who frequent Folly Road often.

The first meeting is Thursday night from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Lowcountry Senior Center on Riverland Drive.

The community meetings will continue over next six months.

It's expected that planners will have the plan finished by the end of the summer.

Then, they'll figure out funding, which will likely include more federal funds for road improvements.

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