Road expansion tops reader traffic solutions

Staff Report
Published June 26, 2014

Reponses to an online poll on traffic issues in the Charleston area show an overwhelming preference for building more roads and expanding existing highways.

The three-day, unscientific poll published in the Daily Journal and online through social media asked readers how they would fix the problem from a list of possible solutions. They also were invited to offer their own ideas. More than 230 people responded.

Reponses to an online poll on traffic issues in the Charleston area show an overwhelming preference for building more roads and expanding existing highways. (Photo/file)The top three picks were roads (45.9%), commuter rail (24%) and flexible work schedules (12.3%) so employees could arrive when traffic was less congested. Many commenters said several solutions working together was the best way to tackle the issue, but it had to start with making roads work better.

“Mass transit will not come close to meetings our needs,” wrote one respondent. “There is no replacement for a good highway system.”

Suggested fixes for Charleston’s traffic issues included building more business parks and offices in the North Area; limiting construction of new homes; using turn lanes and interstate interchanges better; expanding existing bus routes; adjusting timing of traffic signals for high-volume areas; and creating higher-density living downtown to make public transportation more viable.

Though ferry service got little support from respondents, one person suggested adding a hovercraft to travel down the Ashley River and up the Cooper River.

Several respondents suggested finishing Interstate 526, while others suggested abandoning 526 as a project because it would encourage development. Some suggested that there was no solution, and it would only get worse. Others just pleaded for help: “We need to be more forward looking with our approach. We are about 10 to 15 years behind the issue. Please help!”

Respondents also overwhelmingly agreed that the Charleston region has a problem with traffic congestion, and 27% said they had used a CARTA bus.

When asked what factors would be most important when using public transportation to get to work, respondents said convenience of boarding points was most important, followed by how fast the transportation could get them to work as opposed to driving a car. The third-most important factor was how easy the transportation was to use, including route maps and seamless boarding.

That sentiment also was reflected in some of the comments, including one respondent who said “not just convenient boarding points, but also well designed and maintained boarding points.”

Others said public transportation was just not an option because they drove all day for their jobs.

The least-important factors were controlling pollution — only 21 people said that would motivate them to use public transportation — followed by having no other option to get to work. Access to Wi-Fi and having a mobile app to manage a commute tied for the third-least important item.

Several who responded to the survey also offered their own personal perspectives on traffic, commutes to work and difficulties faced by businesses. The selection of comments published below was edited only for typos, punctuation and style.

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“I am in sales and have a company car. I drive to meetings all throughout the day and need my car. I would take public transportation if it was quick and dependable.”

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“There’s currently no public transportation options from my home to my work.”

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“Have to change the local residents’ mindset when it comes to transportation. Costs have to be favorable. Parking exorbitant. Access to Wi-Fi etc. would be a selling point for conversion.”

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“Charleston is 25 years behind in dealing with the current transportation problems. Go to other large South Carolina cities and see how many lanes of interstate or expressways they have. Charleston has only a few miles of Interstate 26 with over two lanes in each direction. The congestion is going to stifle growth unless drastic actions are taken to provide adequate infrastructure to deal with growth. If improvement were started today, it would be in excess of 20 years before current infrastructure needs are met. Attempts to provide mass transit options are not going to solve the problem if citizens are sitting stuck in traffic to get to their desired locations that prompted the travel in the first place.”

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Read all comments and see a breakdown of all responses below.

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