West Ashley residents hope small changes could make big impact for busy intersection

Updated: Feb. 9, 2020 at 9:41 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Community members have reported waiting three to five cycles before passing through the intersection of Wappoo Road and Savannah Highway during rush hour.

Now, local and state leaders hope adding more turn signals could alleviate the area's congestion.

John DeStefano is active in the area through the St. Andrews Public Service District and the West Ashley Revitalization Commission. He started hearing neighbor’s frustrations over the intersection.

"Naturally when you start getting multiple complaints or comments, you want to test it out and make sure it's legitimate," DeStefano said.

So this week, he started a petition asking the department of transportation and the City of Charleston to put turn signals in allowing more cars through to avoid heavy backups.

In less than 48 hours, it gained more than 430 signatures.

Although the petition is now closed, state senator Sandy Senn took notice. She said she's also received requests to alleviate traffic in the area, as well as other high-volume intersections throughout the county like Folly Rd. at Fort Johnson Road, or River Road at Maybank Highway.

For the Wappoo intersection, however, the city conducted a six-hour count in October and recorded more than 32,000 cars entering the intersection. But the South Carolina Department of Transportation found that traffic crossing Savannah Highway and Wappoo Road didn’t warrant separate turn lights.

"It's showing that it doesn't merit more turn signals," Senn said. "Yet, I have all the people living out there telling me that that's wrong."

Community members say they hope the city and SCDOT will take a second look.

“Come up with a creative solution,” DeStefano said. “It doesn’t have to be turn signals. It would be great if it was, but it doesn’t have to be turn signals. Maybe take a look at adjusting the timing so we can get enough cross traffic to keep the intersection relatively clear.”

“The most recent study for left-turn phases was based on a traffic count from October 2019 provided by the City of Charleston,” SCDOT said in a statement. “Left-turn phases were not justified for northbound or southbound Wappoo Road approaches to US 17 at that time. We will continue to work with the City for updated studies as needed.”

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