Glenn McConnell extension project proposed to reach Summerville

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 1:00 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2022 at 7:02 PM EDT
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DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County residents will be voting in November on whether to continue paying a “transportation penny,” a one-cent tax that funds road improvement projects.

There are dozens of projects waiting for funding including one, in particular, looking to help alleviate traffic congestion from Highway 61, especially the area from Paul Cantrell Boulevard in West Ashley.

“It’s been pretty rough,” says Adam Ruffin, who lives off of Hwy 61. “Basically single file line of cars and standstill traffic.

Ruffin and his wife live off the two-lane road and know it’s only going to get worse with all of the development going up. One person who’s working on some of the new neighborhoods is Paul Cook who has to drive 61 every day.

“I can’t believe people don’t find an alternate route to take because the traffic here is horrendous both going in and out,” Cook says.

“Certainly, I’m no expert in the field of traffic but something definitely needs to be done to alleviate some of that traffic out there,” Ruffin says.

A plan is in the works to extend Glenn McConnell Parkway. The parkway currently ends at Bees Ferry Road in West Ashley. But if the proposal goes through, it will keep going into Dorchester County where, according to maps, it would intersect with Old Beech Hill Road and connect to Wright Road, essentially running parallel to Highway 61.

“It will definitely help with people getting to and from work and alleviate a lot of the smaller back roads,” Gregory Maute, who lives along Wright Road, says. “But then if it’s tying in here, it’s going to impact my neighbors and myself and the people that live down the road.”

Maute says this was the first time he was hearing about the project and can see some positives and negatives.

“It would make us more accessible,” Maute says. “But then yes, if they’re widening this road and you know doing two or three lanes each way, that becomes from a country road to a well-traveled road -- a lot of traffic and all that so it’s can be a little bit of a double-edged sword.”

The big question: How would it be funded? Dorchester County says the 1% sales and use tax would generate approximately $735 million. The county’s Capital Improvement Plan calls for nearly $168 million to be allocated for the Glenn McConnell Extension.

Dorchester County leaders say the Public Works director would be happy to talk if the tax is passed by voters in November.

Meanwhile, Maute says he thinks the tax shouldn’t be funded by people who already live there.

“I believe that if it’s going to be funded, it needs to be impact funds on the hundreds of homes that are going in across the area,” Maute says. “Seventy-two people a day are moving here. So we need to not foot the bill.”

Dorchester County residents already pay one cent towards road improvements and have for nearly 20 years. This vote in November would be to continue that tax.

Charleston County officials say they are not currently a part of the extension project.