Charleston working with consultant to fix downtown traffic
CHARLESTON, SC - Charleston is looking at new ways to help traffic on the peninsula.
Wednesday, the city held a public meeting with national transportation expert Gabe Klein to take suggestions from the public and hear about his previous work as the Director of Transportation for Washington D.C. and Chicago.
While many Charleston residents told Live 5 News that traffic was “painful”, “hectic” and “congested”, Klein didn’t agree.
"Traffic doesn't seem terribly bad to me,” Klein said. “Of course, I'm coming from Washington D.C.”
He said Charleston faces similar growth problems to D.C.
"There are places like D.C., like Arlington County, Virginia, that have grown dramatically in terms of office space, mixed used, residential, and seen traffic go down,” Klein said. “That's the goal."
Another issue, Klein said, is balancing the old and new in downtown Charleston.
"There are a lot of old cities where the charm and character for the city was actually formed 300 or 400 years ago before the automobile, and it's ironic that that's what people love so much," Klein said.
While Klein has some strategies, he wants public input, too.
"Some of the best ideas are from lay people, from residents who don't have an engineering or planning degree, but they've been sitting on their porch for 30 years looking at the same problem at the intersection,” Klein said.
Some residents said they just want more parking, but Klein said it's not that simple.
"There's no building your way out of congestion,” Klein said. “There's no adding parking garages and expanding roads. You end up with more congestion."
Klein also said the city is going to need to look at ways of getting around without using cars. He said ridesharing or bike programs are how European cities mange density without struggling with too much traffic.