Folly Beach's Center Street could change from four to three lanes to ease traffic

Folly Beach's Center Street could change from four to three lanes to ease traffic

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - The City of Folly Beach is one step closer in securing funds to transform Center Street from four lanes to three lanes.

On Thursday the Charleston County Finance Committee voted in favor of recommending the full council to approve nearly a half a million dollars in transportation sales tax funds to do it.

City officials say the road project will help improve traffic and make the roads safer for pedestrians.

If you're driving into the City of the Folly, Center Street is the road you have to take to get to the beach.

Manager at Aqua Beach Store along Center Street, Billie Adams, knows the traffic well.

"In a busy season you cannot move, you cannot do anything, it's very congested it's very dangerous sometimes," Adams said. "I sit in traffic for an hour trying to get to work and I'm late sometimes because of it."

City of Folly officials completed a traffic study in 2010 to look for ways to improve the road. At the time they didn't have the funding, but after establishing a Center Street Task Force and coming up with a plan, there are now funds available through the county.

The middle lane would serve as the turning lane in both directions and the outside lanes would keep cars moving. Adams and a frequent visitor to Folly, Jeannie Heitz  from Oregon support the idea.

"I think traffic would flow a lot easier, instead of getting backed up like it does," Heitz said.

The plan would also make roads safer for pedestrians with less lanes to cross and give more visibility for drivers. The changes would cost $476, with most funds  coming from the transportation sales tax fund. Folly will pay up to $90,000.

"A lot of time people don't stop, they're not watching the pedestrians for one thing especially on the streets out there, they don't really pay attention," Heitz said.

There will also be bump-outs installed at busy intersections. It's an extension of the curb so pedestrians can see around parked cars.

Some are not convinced a change is necessary.

David Edwards is visiting from Virginia he says he sees a lot of traffic in the area he lives.

"Everybody tries to change the traffic around and they come up with better ideas and it's not always necessarily a better idea, but basically if it works the way it is why change it?" Edwards said.

City Officials say there could be up to 16,000 thousand cars driving though Center Street on a Saturday and there have been a couple of pedestrian vehicle accidents along with some close calls. Traffic incidents are low so changes are more geared to alleviate the back-up.

"I think it's a great idea, it's a lot safer it will make sure everybody gets to the beach when they want to get to the beach they don't have to turn around and go home because they are sitting in traffic for two hours," Adams said.

The City of Folly Beach paid for the road study and the engineering and design process. If funding is approved by the Charleston County Council the Center Street Road project is expected t obe complete by March of next year.

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