It is time to reallocate the money designated for the proposed I-526 Parkway to fund repairs and improvements to our existing roads, and to address the transportation needs of our state on a priority basis, with heavy emphasis on areas of economic development.
Recently, on behalf of Nix526 and the Concerned Citizens of the Sea Islands, I attended a workshop and the monthly meeting of the commissioners of the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT). After learning that a new Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the SCDOT, the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB), and Charleston County Council was on the agenda, several of us drove to Columbia to ask the commissioners not to approve the IGA which is necessary to proceed with the process to build the I-526 Parkway across Johns and James islands.
This was my first encounter with the SCDOT and its commissioners, and I was impressed. The presentations by staff, their knowledge, interdepartmental support, programs, activities, transparency, and professionalism, followed by the commissioners’ serious deliberation and concern about the issues and their impact were impressive.
I wish members of Charleston County Council could have observed the meeting. If Chairman Teddie Pryor, Vice Chairman Elliott Summey, and council members Anna Johnson, Herb Sass, and Victor Rawl think that Charleston County has the knowledge, resources, and expertise to undertake a $558 million project, they need to spend more time at the DOT. Even this Carolina Girl has to commend those engineers from Clemson.
In a recent Post and Courier article, Pryor said the county has the skill to build the I-526 Parkway, comparing it to the county’s apparently successful completion of the Johnnie Dodds Boulevard upgrade project. It is ridiculous to compare road improvements and landscaping to the construction of five miles of bridges, including two 80-foot-high spans, across wetlands and a river.
The commissioners were adamant that neither Charleston County nor the state should set the precedent of compensating property owners for a decrease in the value of their homes if their properties are within 1,000 feet of the proposed road.
They noted that neither the state nor the county has the funds, and setting this precedent will kill other road construction projects due to the additional cost. It also appears no one thinks compensation means sound barriers except Pryor.
In addition, we should name this project accurately. It is not an interstate or a highway. It is a parkway with speed limits of 35 to 45 miles per hour and no traffic signals, yet.
I want to thank the commissioners for their thoughtful attention to this controversial project and their ongoing contributions to our state.
Glenda L. Miller