Charleston County votes 5-4 to complete I-526

A truck moves under the Interstate 526 underpass at Interstate 26 in North Charleston. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
A truck moves under the Interstate 526 underpass at Interstate 26 in North Charleston. (Photo/Leslie Burden)
By Lauren Ratcliffe
lratcliffe@scbiznews.com
Published Dec. 13, 2012

Charleston County Council gave a green light to move ahead with plans to complete Interstate 526 tonight.

The 5-4 vote came after a Finance Committee meeting where two previously undecided council members voted in favor of the roadway. The Finance Committee and full council votes were identical.

Councilmembers Elliott Summey, Vic Rawl, Herb Sass, Anna Johnson and Chairman Teddie Pryor voted in favor of the motion. Councilmembers Henry Darby, Colleen Condon, Dickie Schweers and Joseph Qualey voted against.

Summey moved for council to accept Alternative G, a lower-speed parkway plan with at-grade signaled intersections. His motion also stated that it was in the best interests of the county to proceed with the permitting, design, financing and construction of the project.

Johnson proposed six amendments to the motion during the committee meeting that asked county staff to advise councilmembers about the effects of completing the road on homeowners and about options to mitigate those effects. She wanted recommendations from the staff about increased safety for pedestrians, requests for compensation from residents impacted by the road, even if they are not directly in the path of the highway, and options for conservation easements.

“If we make this concerted effort to deal with the concerns that residents have, maybe we can feel a little bit better about the project that we are about to build,” Johnson said.

Robin Welch, leader of the grassroots organization Nix526 had no official comment immediately after the Finance Committee vote as proponents of the road hugged and high-fived around her.

Jake Libaire, project manager with the Coastal Conservation League, said he couldn’t speculate about he challenges the league will bring.

Mayor Joe Riley called the vote “wonderful” and said he believes the completed roadway will improve the quality of life for several generations.

Riley said he does not think the project will be killed during the permitting and environmental impact study process.

“There may be litigation, but the county will prevail,” he said after the committee meeting. “The reason is this: This is needed. The right thing wins out, and this is the right thing.”

With the approval, the $558 million roadway project will undergo a permitting process through the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Reach Lauren Ratcliffe at 843-849-3119.

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Comments:

Added: 14 Dec 2012

Congrats to I-526 completion project! How many years must we wait now? Now let's work on more bikepaths so cyclists are not run-over by drivers, in addition to sidewalks on Johns Island!

Mike