JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - There was standing room only inside the auditorium at St. Johns High School Monday evening, as people came out to learn more about the five road improvement projects set to begin on Johns Island.
"I'm a concerned citizen," said Wadmalaw Island resident Mary Jones. "We have a lot of projects going on. We have a lot of issues when it rains."
"They're building constantly on this island," said Johns Island resident Chris Rosendall. "Do you want to wait for a hurricane and find out you don't have the infrastructure to support people getting off the island."
Officials with South Carolina Department of Transportation and Charleston County explained the projects and answered questions.
The projects include.
- Widening Maybank Highway from the Stono River to River Road.
- Building a "pitchfork" to disperse traffic near the intersection of Maybank Highway and River Road.
- Burden Creek Bridge replacement on River Road.
- Hoopstick Bridge replacement on Bohicket Road.
- Improvements to the intersection of Main Road and U.S. Highway 17.
SCDOT is over the bridge replacements.
"The Burden Creek Bridge project will start construction, it will be a detour route, which will start June 11," said Lowcountry program manager for SCDOT Brent Rewis. "It will last approximately 65 days. the detour will be reopened August 14."
Rewis says federal funds will be used for the two bridge replacement projects.
"The Hoopstick Bridge will follow the Burden Creek Bridge project," said Rewis. "That will start roughly in September of 2016 and last approximately seven months."
Rewis says the detour for the Burden Creek Bridge may cause headaches for drivers, but it's necessary.
"It's time to replace those bridges," said Rewis. "The Hoopstick Bridge will be staged, so traffic will be open on two lanes the whole entire time. Now, the other one will be a bit of an issue because we have to detour that bridge."
Charleston County is over the other projects.
Director of Transportation Development Steve Thigpen explained work on Main Road is underway. He said a new drainage system has been put in on Main Road.
Now, crews are working to raise the road four to five inches.
"It should be complete before Thanksgiving, or just after, depending on the weather," said Thigpen.
He explained widening Maybank Highway from Stono River to River Road.
"That project is currently in the planning stages, said Thigpen. "What we will be doing in the next 30 to 60 days is moving to the design phase. That design should take six and eight months to complete. Then, we'll have to go through the permitting agency. That will take 6 months to a year to complete. So, we might between a year and a year and half out before we start awarding a contract to for that project."
He said the project will take time.
"We will anticipate it take six to eight months to construct that project," said Thigpen.
Thigpen said the "pitchfork" proposal near Maybank Highway and River Road is still in the planning phase.
"Construction could take anywhere from two to three years to complete," said Thigpen. "But, we're probably still at least a year out in the planning phase."
Thigpen said County officials have big plans for the intersection of Main Road and Savannah Highway.
"We are currently working, or negotiating with the DOT to move that project forward," said Thigpen. "The improvements we're looking at is creating a flyover intersection. Basically 17 over Main Road to alleviate some of that congested at that intersection."
He said plans for that project are being ironed out now.
"Construction on that project is probably three to four years away," said Thigpen.
While the wheels get moving on these projects, officials say, please be patient.
"I understand their frustrations and we're working as hard as we can to alleviate the issues," said Thigpen.