I-526 may get green light again - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

I-526 may get green light again

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It looks like the project to expand I-526 may soon be back on motion. A meeting will be held tomorrow in Columbia where the State Highway Commission will make a ruling that could allow the project to move forward.

It's a project that has been debated for years, some say it is a politically fueled road to nowhere, while backers claim it will ease traffic and help economic expansion.

The approval happened in 2005 and the cash was ready in 2007, still nothing has happened. The latest hold up was between Charleston County and SCDOT about control of the project.

The meeting on Thursday will show transportation officials that everybody is ready to partner up and resume the 500-million dollar plan. If the transportation board sees that agencies and government are working together properly they may vote to resume.

The plan is to connect I-526 in a circle by constructing 10-miles of highway that will include two bridges to connect James and Johns Islands. Those pushing for it like Charleston County Council's Elliot Summey, says the time has come for a project which is meant to be completed.

"If you were to drive right up to five twenty-six now; go to West Ashley. The mile marker at the beginning of I-five-twenty-six at Savannah Highway says nine not one, nine, which means there are nine miles left to build."

Islander Dana Beach, Executive Director at the Coastal Conservation League seems less for the platform on preservation this time around, it's more about political reform and the House Speaker in Columbia.

"Bobby Harrell is pushing it and he wants to build it for reasons that are not well known to me or maybe anybody, except that he thinks it's a completion of something his father started in 1970."

Beach says such an interstate expansion is no longer needed but he adds it is wanted by developers.

"If you follow the money here you follow these two bridges to Johns Island and then you follow the Cross Island Greenway -- and it ends up at the Beach Company's property, two thousand acres."

If highway officials do give the go ahead on Thursday don't expect any dirt to move soon, expect law suits and both sides are dug in.

"They don't need to sue us but if they do we will be happy to defend it because we will complete the Mark Clark." said Summey.

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