Improvements in works for ‘scary’ James Island intersection

VIDEO: Improvements in works for ‘scary’ James Island intersection

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - People who drive, bike and walk through the intersection of Fort Johnson Road and Secessionville Road on James Island are looking forward to some much-needed improvements.

Charleston County staff gave the intersection a “failing” rating for its Level of Service which is a scale that rates how well a transportation facility is operating from a traveler’s perspective.

“There’s been a lot of accidents at that intersection over a five-year period,” transportation engineering manager with the county Devri Detoma said. “A huge number of accidents.”

In 2011, the County Transportation Committee approved money to fund the project, but a year later staff realized the improvements they planned wouldn’t help with congestion.

Elizabeth Leatherbury has lived on James Island for 19 years and said she’s seen exponential growth during that time. She also drives through this intersection, and rides her bike, on a daily basis.

“It is really scary to be honest with you,” Leatherbury said. “In the mornings it can take me 10 to 15 minutes to get across the street safely because people drive so fast down Fort Johnson Road.”

In 2016, the South Carolina Department of Transportation analyzed the intersection and found that it could meet the requirements for a traffic signal in the year 2020. Detoma said her staff visited the site and spoke with local fire and police departments.

“To tell us what they see and why they write tickets for accidents,” she said. “We went out there really early in the morning and in the afternoon to observe what was going on. We saw a lot of near-hits.”

County staff decided the preferred alternative is to put in a traffic signal, though other alternatives included a roundabout and a four-way stop.

Leatherbury said initially she preferred a roundabout.

“I think it’s a speed buffering apparatus,” she added. “I think a traffic circle can be beautified as well and landscaping can make it look nice but I am concerned about the land required to put a traffic circle in...at this point we need a quick fix. We need a safe intersection.”

You can give your input until Aug. 31 by clicking on this link and filling out the form on the bottom of the page.

Detoma said they’ve gotten about 150 comments so far and people seem to be split between a traffic signal and a roundabout. However, she said most people are glad to see something will be done.

The traffic signal would cost about $1.8 million though they are working with the Charleston Water System to see how much it would cost to possibly relocate some large water mains under the roadway. Construction could start in about nine months and the money would come from the county’s transportation sales tax.

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