CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Just days ahead of a planned announcement to bring the PGA Championship back to Kiawah Island in 2021, traffic on the island is still an issue officials are looking to address.
CEO Bryan Derreberry of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, has been a strong voice in favor of extending I-526, which would add an additional eight miles, extending the highway from West Ashley onto James Island.
"It's one of our top two state legislative priorities," he said.
Commission Chairman Jim Rozier, of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, said neither the design nor permit process has been completed, and the I-526 extension project is still in the draft phase of an environmental impact study.
When asked of a likely timeline for completion, Rozier said the 2021 PGA Championship is "an ambitious goal."
SCDOT would inspect and maintain I-526, while Charleston County officials would be tasked with managing the project.
Rozier said officials are in the process of purchasing land for right of ways, and have secured the majority of funding for the more than $550 million extension through the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SCTIB).
Meanwhile, members of the Coastal Conservation League maintain extending the highway is not what's best for the city, due to its high cost and likely impact on rural areas on Johns and James Island.
"We have seen throughout the process, many red flags, and there are still many hurdles to go," said CCL attorney Natalie Olson.
Charleston County officials are scheduled to meet with SCDOT May 18. The two will discuss liability in potential lawsuits filed over the extension project.