CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — On Friday, traffic was moving more smoothly along eastbound I-526 and Long Point Road. Part of the reason is because more government agencies, like the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), are getting involved. The team helped to direct traffic, commercial trucks to the right and other vehicles to the left. SCDOT will be out on the interstate through the weekend continuing to help with the flow.
Mount Pleasant Police allowed around 10-15 trucks off of the exit ramp at a time. Once traffic started to bottle up on Long Point Road, they would stop the flow of trucks, let the buildup clear and then let another round of trucks out onto Long Point Road.
While the trucks were stopped on the exit ramp waiting to turn News 2’s Ashley Yost climbed up on their driver door step and talked to drivers through their truck window. She asked, “How ya doing?” These were some of the responses truck drivers gave her.”
“Just fighting this traffic every day.”
“Nothing you can do about it.”
We also asked, “How frustrated are you?”
The reply, “Very! Because I can’t make any money.”
Another driver explained how the problems are causing him to lose money “I mean we’re just sitting here and we get paid by the load so whatever comes in and out.”
Officials say they were not aware of the change in the port’s system until Monday when the traffic began, so now they have a system to help things run smoothly.
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“There were times when you had trucks trying to jump the line, you had cars not really sure where to go,” Robert Clark, SCDOT District Engineering Administrator said. “Today we put the cones out and we’ve got the police working a little bit on this end of the queue and it seems to be working a lot better,” Clark added.
South Carolina Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome addressed media on Friday afternoon about the congestion through the week. He says on Friday, things were much closer to where they need to be, and the ultimate goal is a 45 minute turn-around time for truckdrivers. Newsome says the issues this week were a mix of drivers not having their pin codes and bugs in the system.
He says, “If we had 3900 transactions a day, we had 600 gate code issues. There’s no way to overcome a gate code issue. I mean that’s just a part of the system. The software has gotten better every day, our people got used to using it more. It’s a very sophisticated software, but we’ve got smart people working it. The hardware issues on Wednesday and Thursday were probably the biggest detriment. If we had not had the hardware issues we were where we needed to be.”
Newsome says the port will be open for extended hours over the weekend, so he hopes this will help drivers reclaim some of the lost revenue from the week and take some of the pressure off of the traffic on Monday.