CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation is planning on making some changes to the Isle of Palms connector to improve accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.
In a plan released on Thursday, DOT officials said they will be re-striping the connector to expand pedestrian lanes and create bike lanes on both sides of the road.
The department said they have been working with Charleston Moves and the East Coast Greenway over the last few months to improve bike and pedestrian safety.
“South Carolina, like most other states, is seeing an increase in fatalities and serious injuries associated with bicyclists and pedestrians. SCDOT understands the need to safely design and construct roadways that accommodate all modes of transportation and is incorporating all these ideas into a ‘Complete Streets Policy,’” SCDOT officials said in a statement.
Charleston Moves executive director Katie Zimmerman says the project could be the first of its kind in the state.
“I think this is the first time DOT has proposed green paint, and what’s beneficial about it on the ground is that it’s good visual cue for motorists to understand where people walking and biking are going to be,” Zimmerman said. “I hope everybody can come together and rally around this [because] it’s really good to see our state agency think about the user experience and the safety experience for people walking, biking, and running.”
According to Isle of Palms’ website, the plan would also reduce the speed limit from 55 to 45 miles per hour. Mt. Pleasant town councilman Gary Santos, who has been involved in this effort since the beginning, says this plan could make a real change.
“You see a lot of people walking and riding bikes, enjoying the outdoors, and I think we would get more people doing that to the beach if it were safer to be able to go over,” he said.
The plan would reduce the center median, but DOT officials say it will add three feet of additional space on the outside of the car lanes for emergency services.
Isle of Palms city councilman Ryan Buckhannon expressed some concerns in a Facebook post about how the project could impact emergency services.
In his post he said, “Depending on the emergency incident location, this could also cause emergency personnel to work in conditions where traffic would be moving on both sides of the working space. For safety reasons, this would lead to our incident commanders shutting down one lane of traffic.”
SCDOT is expected to present their plans to the Isle of Palms’ public safety committee on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m.