Plan to widen IOP Connector maintains momentum despite noise concerns
Widening the IOP Connector is not only about traffic patterns; Isle of Palms Mayor Pro Tem Ryan Buckhannon says it's a safety issue.
"We would hate to have a situation where someone needs to leave the island and can't do so."
The project was one of four county council approved last week. The connector would go from two to four lanes between Highway 17 and Riviera Drive, which is the turn into the Shoppes at Seaside Farms.
"We need it," Buckhannon says. "We definitely need it. We need it, not only for the residents of the Isle of Palms to safely get on and off the island, but for vacationers, tourists."
However, people who live in houses right off the connector, in the Sweetgrass subdivision, want a sound barrier
"More traffic, the more noise it has," says J.R. Nelson, a Sweetgrass Homeowners Association board member. "I mean it's not just one season anymore, it seems to be, it's getting year-round now."
Buckhannon says the cost of a sound barrier would be in the millions.
"The cost would be extravagant, and it would actually make the project go away. We would not be able to do it. It would be unfeasible."
He believes more lanes would cut down on noise because cars will not be stalled in one spot for too long. The Sweetgrass Homeowners Association doesn't buy that.
"If you ever get on one of these property owners backyard on any given day you're going to hear a lot of noise out there, and I'm afraid even if the cars are going by, there is no traffic jam, we still have that noise," says Nelson. "So, I think widening is not really going to help that issue."
Roughly $2.5 million dollars will come from the 2014 budget for this project. Construction is slated to begin after Labor Day and expected to be completed in December.