Charleston Co. to discuss possibly changing plan for Main Road/Highway 17

Ever since Main Road was shut down due to the king tides a couple weeks ago, people have been wondering what Charleston County plans to do to remedy the problem for good. The county and the South Carolina Department of Transportation have improvements for Main Rd. planned dating back two years, but those plans could change during tonight’s County Council meeting. Charleston County and the SCDOT signed an agreement in 2013 to secure funding for improvements to Main Rd. But Charleston County says the plan currently in place may not be the best option for Main Rd., and want to discuss other choices. The plan right now is to turn Main Rd. into a “super street”.

SCDOT Safety Projects Engineer, Keith Riddle, says, “Northbound vehicles on Main and southbound vehicles on Main will first need to take a right, and then they’ll make a protected U-turn a little further down the road. There will be 3 traffic signals there. It removes 3 conflict points and that’s how it makes it safer.”

This plan would cost $3.5 million dollars, with $2 million coming from the SCDOT Highway Safety Improvement Project Funding, and the other $1.5 million from Charleston County. But some County Council members say it’s not a smart way to spend that money.

Charleston County Council Vice Chair Victor Rawls says, “From the beginning it was designed as basically a band-aid approach to a more complex problem. That is the widening of Main Road from probably Bees Ferry to the intersection of Main Road and River at least with four lanes over the bridges.”

Council members say instead, the better option may be an interchange with an overpass on Main Rd., which would take drivers over tip of Highway 17. The SCDOT says that an intersection like Charleston County Council is suggesting would cost about $30 million, money that just isn’t there.

Riddle says, ” We looked at it in our initial study and found that it would work. It would solve the safety problem and the capacity problem, but for our office and for our funding, we didn’t have the amount of money that it would cost for an interchange. There would also be more right of way impacts, more properties displaced, there would be a greater wetlands impact.”

At Tuesday’s County Council meeting, they will vote on whether or not they want to re-open discussions with the SCDOT about their agreement and $1.5 million commitment, to pull back from the super street idea and run more studies about the interchange possibility. The SCDOT tells News 2, right now, they are expected to start construction on the super street in 2016, but reopening negotiations could push back the groundbreaking even further.

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