ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCSC) - On Tuesday night, the Isle of Palms City Council discussed gathering information on how much it costs annually to take ownership, control, and maintenance of South Carolina Department of Transportation owned roads on the island.
Councilmembers said that SCDOT were not maintaining the roads and that there were “disaster areas” along Palm Boulevard. According to city leaders, there has been a lot of concern especially regarding the shoulders along Palm Boulevard and a lack of follow through from the DOT.
Mayor Jimmy Carroll suggested that the planning commission do research on taking over the road. Councilmembers also urged city leaders to speak to residents in the area about the issue.
Last month, City Council voted to permanently eliminate parking along the land-side of Palm Boulevard to improve pedestrian and vehicle safety.
However, the SCDOT told the city that elimination of parking is not allowed unless the city can provide convincing documentation of a valid threat to public safety. Those parking restrictions remain in place under the COVID-19 Emergency Ordinance.
The mayor and council have also discussed implementing paid parking along the ocean side of Palm Boulevard. Isle of Palms city council is still working with SCDOT on those plans.
Isle of Palms Oct. 5 Public Safety meeting minutes states the city was also discussing plans to improve problem areas on the shoulders of 35th Avenue through 41st Avenue. They say the improvements mostly include drainage and right-of-way encroachments.
IOP City Administrator Desiree Fragoso said that the Public Works Department will be doing some of the work to repair the shoulder. She added that they have been in contact with a vendor to help with the grading in that area.
“I think that this will also be part of the conversations that the City will include with SCDOT for them to understand that the paid parking program is not only meant to cover the cost of the City providing public access to the beach but also improving the right-of-ways and improving the road,” Fragoso said.
An encroachment permit still needs to be completed and submitted to SCDOT for the city to conduct shoulder work, but Fragoso says that permit should be completed this week.
City council and the Isle of Palms Police Department say they have been speaking with SCDOT about how to make crosswalks more visible on Palm Boulevard. They say they are trying to identify the correct locations for crosswalks and the best infrastructure for them.
Police Chief Kevin Cornett said flashing crosswalk beacons would need to be installed at each crosswalk. He said those would cost $10,000 to $15,000 per pair.
“We have to have a study to show that the rectangular rapid flashing beacon installation is justified based on appropriate criteria from resources and research, and that includes traffic data to include pedestrian and vehicular accounts, crash history, narrative describing the reason for the location, and what other traffic control devices have been used to try to address those concerns in the past,” Cornett said.
Cornett also told council that these beacons need federal approval.
Fragoso said in a statement during the public safety meeting that Isle of Palms is eager and hopeful that an agreeable solution can be found that works for both the city and SCDOT.