County plans new access road to airport

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published March 5, 2014

Engineers are studying the area outlined in red for potential routes for the Airport Connector Road. (Map provided by Charleston County)
Engineers are studying the area outlined in red for potential routes for the Airport Connector Road. Click image to enlarge. (Map provided by Charleston County)
A new road leading to the Charleston International Airport will relieve congestion and connect several main roads in North Charleston, Charleston County officials said Tuesday night.

Officials said the road could attract industry by creating access to developable property and improving traffic flow for companies to transport goods. The county also wants the road to improve quality of life for locals with reduced travel time.

Richard Turner, the county’s construction project manager, spoke about the Airport Connector Road project to around 100 people at a public meeting at Goodwin Elementary School in North Charleston on Tuesday night. The presentation was very brief.

The project will likely be a roughly 3-mile, four-lane road that could connect Dorchester Road, Montague Avenue and International Boulevard. Turner said it will provide a new route to the airport, create economic development opportunities and lessen congestion in the area.

Most of the details have not been nailed down yet. The county is considering numerous routes and cost estimates are currently around $42 million, though that figure is likely to change, Turner said.

The region’s continued growth and increased passenger traffic at the airport, expansions at the Tanger Outlets and the presence of Boeing operations all within a few miles of each other off International Boulevard have caused congestion.

The Federal Aviation Administration cut funding to International Boulevard in 2008 since it was no longer being used primarily for airport traffic. Charleston County took over maintenance. In 2010, the state and county entered into an intergovernmental agreement to perform traffic studies for the area. The Airport Connector Road was one of the long-term projects to stem from those studies.

During Tuesday’s meeting, attendees looked at maps showing where the road could be and asked project engineers about how a new road would affect their neighborhoods, traffic congestion and the environment.

Some wanted the road to have greenery for aesthetics and storm water runoff drains. Others wanted to ensure traffic would not be worse and that neighborhoods would not be affected, with businesses likely setting up along a new road.

“We have to be sensitive to the major stakeholders and to the neighborhoods here,” said Rhett Reidenbach, vice president of Davis & Floyd Inc., the engineering firm working with the county on the road.

Engineers, surveyors and scientists began gathering data, conducting surveys and analyzing project information in October. The county plans to hold another public meeting in mid-May for design input from the public on potential routes.

Construction (.pdf) of the road is estimated to begin in October 2015 and be completed in spring 2017.

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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