NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Airport Connector Road project is back on the table several years after plans stalled. The goal of the project is to improve traffic and spur economic development in North Charleston.
“The purpose is to separate commuter traffic and airport traffic from Boeing traffic. This road is going to enable us to do that as well as help with some congestion issues on Dorchester road, for example,” project manager Megan Smith said.
The Airport Connector Road project includes a new, two-mile road to get cars directly from I-526 to the Charleston International Airport and also includes changes to the interchange of I-526 and West Montague Avenue.
The project’s consulting group says the ACR was put on hold due to a clear-zone issue between Boeing and the Charleston County Aviation Authority, but those issues have since been resolved with a land swap. The ACR project team chose two design options they believe are most ideal; one for the ACR and one for the interchange of I-526 and West Montague Avenue.
“But nothing is set in stone,” Smith said. "We need comments from the public in order to identify the preferred alternative that we can move forward with.”
The top design for the ACR includes a new, four-lane road from the West Montague Avenue/I-526 interchange to the airport. It also includes a new traffic signal at ACR and Michaux Parkway plus the widening of Michaux Parkway from two lanes to four lanes. You can see the plans by clicking here.
The top design for the interchange of West Montague Avenue and I-526 includes a diverging diamond interchange. You can look at those plans by clicking here.
Charleston County staff put a virtual public meeting online where you can view all the plans, read why they chose the preferred alternatives and find out their possible impact. You can view the meeting and give you comments here. The last day to write in is Friday, Oct. 16.
Miwa Robbins, who lives off Dorchester Road, wrote to the county to express her concerns and what she’d like to see in the area.
“I feel like gentrification is a very real issue in North Charleston, and I don’t want to see the people around me displaced. So I feel like for that reason, public comment and engagement is important,” Robbins said.
The current plans chosen by the county would displace 11 homes or businesses, but Smith says they have not gotten much push back from the owners.
“We have our right-of-way consultant get an appraisal for the property and we go and talk to the property owner come up with an agreeable amount and then we purchase that property,” she added.
The entire project is expected to cost $106.2 million. Smith says funding will come from the Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
“If there was a way to put bike lanes and more walker-friendly access, I think that would be great,” Robbins added. "More greenways. I’m always a fan of that.”
Smith says they do plan to make the area more accessible for people who don’t drive.
“We are planning on installing a multi-use path from the Coliseum through the interchange all the way to Collins Park," she added. "We’re also working with CARTA to either identify bus stops, bus shelters that we can put in or move to improve the area.”
County staff hope to have another public hearing in 2021 and expect construction to start near the end of 2022.