Charleston traffic committee to hear input, discuss downtown road safety plan

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 4:46 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2023 at 7:56 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston leaders and community members are set to talk about an SCDOT traffic audit of downtown that prompted plans for changes to dangerous roads and intersections.

SCDOT identified downtown Charleston as having four of the top ten most dangerous roadways in the state. The research found that the Meeting Street, King Street, Calhoun Street, and Saint Philip Street corridors experienced a combined total of 2,556 vehicular, 91 pedestrian, and 91 bicycle crashes from January 2013 to June 2021.

The proposed changes include a lot of improvements to crosswalks, like all-way crossing signals and freshly painted visibility markings for intersection crosswalks.

The SCDOT plan suggests a bike path focus on St. Phillip Street. The images show one through lane and a two-way cycle track next to the one traffic lane. Suggestions for Calhoun Street are more crosswalks and sidewalk improvements.

For lower King Street, the initial plan suggests restriping the road to include seven feet for parking, a two-foot buffer, and a five-foot bike lane - one way with the flow of traffic. But that’s where city traffic and transportation leaders made changes. They cite safety concerns for redesigning lower King Street.

The final King Street plan consists of one 14-foot-wide lane of traffic flanked by eight-foot parking spaces and one foot of buffer space between the parked cars and the sidewalk.

The plans for both the original and redesigned King Street format note there will be two loading/unloading zones per block on the roadway. Each plan creates four new parking spaces on King Street and four new loading zones.

The city provides a timeline that shows two meetings in March of 2023 with the mayor, Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, College of Charleston and Traffic and Transportation Committee to finalize changes to the lower King Street corridor.

The public comments submitted to SCDOT about the original plan show that one submission specifically opposed the bike lane on lower King Street. Three submissions mentioned that they did not want lower King Street to change from two lanes to one. Those three did not directly mention the bike in their writing though.

SCDOT received 23 emailed comments and 18 handwritten comment sheets.

The plan was presented to City Council in July, but the community and certain council members expressed concerns about the redesign and wanted to talk more about the options.

Some leaders did support the plan, including Mayor John Tecklenburg and Traffic and Transportation Committee Chair Mike Seekings. They expressed that the overall plan has good improvements and a bike lane on lower King Street is not needed, since it is hilly bikers can use St. Phillip Steet or the 14-foot traffic lane.

On Aug. 9, the Traffic and Transportation Committee will host an hour-and-a-half-long meeting with time for public comment about the road safety plan.

To view the Traffic and Transportation agenda, click here.