Some downtown Charleston streets will be converted for two-way traffic

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Starting Monday, Oct. 2, work will begin to convert Spring and Cannon streets to accommodate two-way traffic.

Weather permitting, the entire process is expected to take two weeks with the conversion of Spring Street in week one followed by the conversion of Cannon Street in week two.

The plan to convert Cannon and Spring streets to two-way has been in the making since the neighborhood comprehensive plan was drafted in 1998, and originated as a request from the citizens of the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood, with support from surrounding neighborhoods including Radcliffeborough and the West Side.

"Our neighborhood is thrilled," said Vice President of Cannonborough-Elliotborough Neighborhood Association Cator Sparks. "This project has been in the works for years, and we've been involved since the beginning. Hopefully, it will discourage speeders and bring more attention to our local businesses."

To execute the conversion, each street will be changed in four segments, approximately two blocks per day, with at least one lane open at all times for through traffic and parking lanes closed as necessary.

As the work progresses down the street, safety cones will remain in place along the center line to further reinforce the new traffic pattern.

During the week of the conversion of Cannon Street, the new westbound lane will be prohibited from turning left (south) onto President.

Once the conversion is complete, drivers will be allowed to make the left turn onto President.

A few modifications to King Street will be required to allow for the new turning movements onto Cannon Street.

Vehicles approaching Meeting Street from the new eastbound lane on Spring Street will be required to turn right.

On both streets, the one-block section between the Septima P. Clark Expressway and President Street will remain as the existing one-way.

In addition to the conversion of the streets to two-way, the project also included streetscaping improvements such as new curbs, sidewalks, street lighting, trees, bike racks, trash cans, traffic signals and pedestrian crossing signals.

Keith Benjamin, director of the city of Charleston department of traffic and transportation said, "We are excited to finally deliver these major roadway improvements to the neighborhoods impacted most by these streets. Converting Cannon and Spring streets to two-way traffic will vastly increase the safety of everyone, pedestrians and motorists alike, while also improving the quality of life of the citizens who live and work along this corridor."

"We feel like it will help traffic move through the neighborhood better," Bill Bowick, owner of Sugar Bakery, said. "It also slows it down because people can get a little fast, myself included… But I think it will sort of weave our neighborhood together a little bit more. Make it more neighborhood-y."

"I know some people are concerned about losing a certain direction of traffic but really between Spring and Cannon, we'll still have the same number of lanes going East or West – so we're not really losing lanes, just being redistributed," Bowick added.

Jacob Lindsey, the director of the city of Charleston's Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability, said the last major project like this was when they converted Wentworth and Beaufain streets for two-way traffic. The conversion of Spring and Cannon streets is the largest project since then.

Lindsey added that after the conversion happens, and everything is running smoothly, the city will be repaving both streets.

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