Charleston County Council votes in favor to finish I-526 project

Charleston County Council votes in favor of completing I-526 project
Published: Dec. 12, 2012 at 6:01 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County Council voted 5 to 4 to finish the I-526 completion project.

It was a close vote, but council voted yes to finishing the controversial project after a nearly four-hour long meeting Thursday night.

The game changers in council were Anna Johnson and Herb Sass, who didn't really give an indication before the vote which way they were going. Ultimately, both voted in favor of the project, along with Vic Rawl, Elliott Summey and Teddie Pryor.

Summey, who introduced the motion, said it was in the best interest of the county to finish the project.

The project is expected to cost about $560 million and won't be finished anytime soon. Permits likely will take years to obtain, and court challenges are expected.

The plan calls for a parkway-type road across Johns and James Island, not a high-speed limited access interstate.

"It's not so much as a development driven road but it's one that lends towards more of a traffic solution road," Summey said Thursday night. "It's a compromise and in these situations, compromise is good for all. Not everyone walks away happy, not everyone walks away sad."

Earlier Thursday night, Charleston County Council's Finance Committee voted 5 to 4 for the county to finish the I-526 completion project.

Before the meeting happened, supporters already believed that they had the votes to build the project themselves.

"This has been a decisive issue," Summey said."It's been going on for 40 years in our community and it's time for us to put it to bed and I'm glad we're going to give the folks in the path of 526 some closure."

Earlier this month, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley asked the council to turn the project over to the City of Charleston, but council declined the invitation.

Two groups, "Finish 526" and "Nix 526," have spoken passionately for and against the project over the past few months.

Copyright 2012 WCSC. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.