CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation says they launched their public engagement activities for the I-526 Lowcountry Corridor West public hearing.
The project aims to increase capacity at the I-26/I-526 interchange and along the I-526 mainline, thereby relieving traffic congestion and improving operations, a SCDOT release stated.
SCDOT Project Manager Joy Riley says the purpose of the public hearing is to provide an update on the project, highlight the DEIS' findings, and make the DRAFT Environmental Justice Community Mitigation Plan available in order to ask for meaningful input from the citizens and stakeholders.
“This public hearing represents a major milestone for the I-526 Lowcountry Corridor WEST project,” Riley said. “I hope the public will take advantage of the number of safe and convenient options we are providing both in-person and virtually. The feedback we receive on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and DRAFT Environmental Justice Community Mitigation Plan as well as the recommended preferred alternative will shape this project’s future and our region for years to come.”
The public hearing webpage will also feature the recommended preferred alternative and the design proposed for the project, Riley said. The webpage will walk users through the steps taken to arrive at the proposed improvements and provide information about the potential impacts and proposed mitigation measures.
Riley said the recommended preferred alternative includes the components that best meet the purpose and need of the project while minimizing environmental and community impacts. She says it combines Alternative 1 from Paul Cantrell Boulevard to International Boulevard, Alternative 2 from International Boulevard to Rivers Avenue, and Alternative 2A from Rivers Avenue to Virginia Avenue.
To view information and ask questions from the comfort and safety of home, SCDOT has created the public hearing webpage that contains all the materials and comment opportunities people would see at an in-person meeting, organized into stations.
Riley says users can view a simulation of the recommended preferred alternative, identify potential right-of-way impacts, submit comments and participate in a one-on-one live chat during select times.
SCDOT says the public hearing webpage, Draft Environmental Impact Statement and official comment period are available through Jan. 15.
Additionally, SCDOT officials say the public may call or text the project hotline at 843-258-1135 to ask questions of the project team, leave a formal comment, or request a mailed packet.
Riley says they will also host an in-person, appointment-only public hearing at the Community Office at 5627 Rivers Avenue – Gas Lite Square, for those unable or who do not wish to participate online, beginning Nov 19. Appointments will be limited to two individuals per appointment and can be made on the public hearing webpage or by calling or texting the project hotline.
The public can also comment by email, mail, phone, on the website and in a live, virtual comment session to be held on Dec. 15, but Riley says registration is required to comment in then virtual session.
The SCDOT says information presented in the public hearing is available in both English and Spanish.