Concerns arise over Highway 61’s ability to handle future growth

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 4:20 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2022 at 10:00 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Neighbors and a City of Charleston councilmember have raised concern over South Carolina Highway 61, also known as Ashley River Road, and its ability to handle future growth in the Lowcountry.

Councilman Stephen Bowden said the Charleston area has an ongoing housing crisis, but the current infrastructure, like Highway 61, cannot support the extra cars more development will bring.

Bowden hopes the South Carolina Department of Transportation is working on a plan to address the needs of cars on Ashley River Road.

He also said widening the road, putting in center turn lanes or creating a bypass would all help relieve the strain on the roadway.

West Ashley neighbors said they are against widening the road because of the trees that would have to be cut down, but Bowden said the city cannot sit on its hands.

“Touching these old trees is nobody’s first solution,” Bowden said. “Maybe there are other things. Maybe eventually tying in Glenn McConnell to 61 would create some sort of bypass, but the reality is not doing anything is going to choke us in gridlock in the future, and that’s just not viable.”

North Charleston, which also has development ongoing on the roadway, approved a zoning overlay district in 2020 that includes the land fronting Ashley River Road.

Some of the requirements include a 200-foot buffer between the road and planned housing development, limiting the number of entrances to neighborhoods and putting in bike and pedestrian trails.

The department of transportation has not yet replied to requests for comment on any future plans for the roadway.