Islanders: Build a Johns Island Connector

VIDEO: Islanders: Build a Johns Island Connector
Stono River at the end of Wappoo Road in West Ashley. The idea of the connector would cross the river to Johns Island. (Source: Live 5)
Stono River at the end of Wappoo Road in West Ashley. The idea of the connector would cross the river to Johns Island. (Source: Live 5)

JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Johns Island residents will have the chance to share their thoughts on a proposed half cent sales tax referendum.

Charleston County Government will hold its third public meeting Monday at St. John's High School from 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

The referendum would raise money to try and tackle road problems and public transportation.

Some islanders feel the money raised from the tax increase could help pay for the construction of a Johns Island Connector.

The Johns Island Community Association said it would built from a portion of the 526 extension plan that died a few weeks ago.

"There are 2,000 people on Isle of Palms and they have a connector," said Stephen Harris, Board Chairman of the Association. "There are 25,000 people on Johns Island... [we need this]."

Harris feels the time has come for Charleston County to start investing money in improving Johns Island.

With only two ways to get on the island he believes safety measures need to be addressed through a connector."If a hurricane hits we've got two tiny lanes going off of Johns Island," he said. "We're going to have 12,000 people there in three years. 12,000 people just in the city. We're worried about safety, infrastructure, all of these types of things."

Harris believes the project could be built with the half cent sales tax referendum up for discussion.

It would raise money to tackle roads and public transportation. The tax would only exclude food and medicine.

"I'm not for a half cent sales tax on everything," said Joan Wert, of Johns Island.

While Wert said she's against the sales tax referendum because of how high taxes are already, she said traffic does need to be improved and would be for a Johns Island Connector.

"We have more developments going in since I moved here," she said. "So the traffic is getting worse and worse."

"It would possibly be a good help," said Billy Tyler, of Wadmalaw Island. "It would alleviate some of the traffic on the secondary roads, which are actually primary roads."

"The Gelegotis Bridge [Maybank Highway Bridge] cost $40-million to make in '03," Harris added. "It would be a little bit longer than that bridge. We're talking a couple hundred million dollars. That's what they're just going to use for the flyover."

That flyover was approved for Main Road and Savannah Highway in West Ashley.

In November Charleston County Council approved the plan to move forward with that nearly $65-million project.

A member of the Facebook group, Charlestonians for 526, stated, "Unlike improvements to Main Road, a Johns Island Connector would give drivers another route to the islands, it cuts driving distances to the island I half from I-526, and keeps island traffic out of West Ashley. We would find it difficult to support a tax referendum that does not include a Johns Island Connector."

A spokesperson for the Coastal Conservation League said a connector is going to bring up the same issues the County dealt with over the 526 extension project.

The group feels the money can be used for projects that have already been studied such as the flyover for Main Road and the widening of Main Road to Maybank Highway.

Charleston County Government will hold two more meetings:

  • June 22, 2016 - location to be determined for James Island meeting
  • June 23, 2016 - Jennie Moore School, 2725 Bulrush Basket Lane, Mt. Pleasant

If you can't make any of the meetings, Charleston County has also created an online comment form you can complete.

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