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After more than a decade of delays, officials from Charleston County and the South Carolina Department of Transportation unveiled a new proposed route for the completion of Interstate 526.

Richard Turner, Charleston County’s deputy director of public works, said in an Aug. 19 news conference that introducing the plans to the public was a benchmark moment for the Mark Clark Extension project, formally referred to as the Mark Clark Expressway project. The project would connect West Ashley to Johns Island and then James Island. The entire I-526 corridor has been in the works since the late 1960s.

The proposed route is titled Alternative G, and is essentially the same as the one proposed in 2010, when stakeholders first examined 39 alternatives. Now, 11 years later, state and county officials reaffirmed their initial decision after going through much of the same process. 

Alternative G is proposed as a four-lane parkway including a sectioned-off, multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists. It would stretch 9.5 miles in total, including two connector roads. The route would connect I-526 and West Ashley to the James Island Connector at Folly Road.

It would begin just west of the I-526 interchange with U.S. Route 17, also known as Savannah Highway, near Citadel Mall, and end just east of the Folly Road interchange.

The proposed expressway would bridge the Stono River and neighboring marsh in two places; first at Johns Island, and then again to enter James Island. Sixty-four percent of the mainline will be elevated, helping to reduce its footprint and preserve wetlands, Mattox said. The speed limit is proposed at between 35 and 45 mph.

The Mark Clark Extension project, a collaboration between Charleston County and SCDOT, is necessary to improve traffic and support dramatic population growth in the Lowcountry, Turner said.

While many people moved to Johns Island, for instance, most work in North Charleston and downtown Charleston, the county’s employment centers, Turner said.

“It’s a lot of commuter traffic that’s going in and out of those areas each day,” he said. “When I look at traffic needs, that’s really the thing that sinks in to me.”

By 2050, it’s projected to take over two hours to travel during morning rush hour from River Road and Maybank Highway in Johns Island to Charleston International Airport if the Mark Clark Extension project is not completed. If the road does get finished, travel time would be cut to 41 minutes.

But opponents of the project have previously voiced concern over both the environmental and financial effects of the roadway. (Credit: Post and Courier) For more information, please contact THE BRENNAMAN GROUP:843.345.6074 – bob@charlestonproperty.net