Mount Pleasant, S.C.— Mount Pleasant traffic continues to build on Highway 41. The town of Mount Pleasant and Charleston County have plans to widen it. They held a meeting Wednesday March 23rd at the Park West Recreation Complex to give you an update on the project.
We talked with the town’s Transportation Director Brad Morrison on Wednesday and he laid out where they are in the process. Their plan is to add lanes to the 4.6 mile stretch from Highway 17 to the Wando Bridge. They are in the early stages of the process so you will not see construction any time soon.
The reason for the meeting Wednesday is keep people in the know about where the town is in the process. Two major points on the agenda are “the schedule and how’s it going to get done,” said Morrison. The answers were laid out in the meeting and will be posted to the town’s website shortly.
Morrison says the big unknown right now is money. “We still have to answer the question on the overall funding of the construction, Morrison said. “But you know we’re getting started. Tonight is about telling everybody where we’re at in the process.”
The process is not cheap. The estimate is around $100 million dollars needed, but there are still a lot of unknown factors like whether or not they will need to construct a bridge. If not then the cost could be less than that. However, there are other factors that could make the project cost more. Local governments have put in the money for the design. “The town is putting in money, Charleston County is putting in money, CHATS, another entity, is putting in money to start this design process because you have to finish that before you can do anything else,” Morrison stated.
Federal funding is also a possibility, but it needs to be approved first. “It has to go through an environmental review process and that’s called NEPA, National Environmental Protection Act,” said Morrison. “That process takes about 18 to 24 months.”
The studies done by NEPA will help the town determine what they need to build. If it passes, then the construction planning starts, which can take 4-6 years. This is a typical time frame for a road project of this size.
In the meantime, their focus is on the Joe Rouse intersection. “That’s where a bunch of traffic comes out of Park West coming down south on 41,” Morrison points out. “That section’s really the highest volume section and really clogs things up for the remaining part of the facility.”
The town also has some little fixes while they wait on construction approval. “We’re going to look at improvements to that intersection at Joe Rouse that I just talked about,” Morrison described. “Try to free up that congestion point and we think that we can do that with some relatively speaking, minor improvements.”
2019 is the earliest you will see construction on the widening of Highway 41. However there are a lot of design plans, regulations and funding that need approval first. The chances of the project starting as early as 2019 are not likely.