CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County Council on Thursday met to discuss a proposed compromise to the Highway 41 expansion project. The Council’s Finance Committee voted to move the proposal as a whole, likely to be discussed at a council meeting later this month.
The latest proposal incorporates visions from past proposals, community and stakeholder input and county proposals.
The expansion o Highway 41 is intended to reduce existing congestion in the area while preparing for expected and continued growth in the area.
The project began back in 2017 and has consisted of more than 20 different design proposals, more than one hundred and fifty meetings and more than six thousand public comments.
Following backlash from previous plans, the new plan includes the following updates:
- Minimizes impacts to the Phillips Community
- Updates the 41/17 connection based on community feedback from stakeholders
- Eliminates property impacts to Seven Mile at the 41/17 connections
- Provides a 2-lane parkway around Park West along the edge of Laurel Hill County Park
- Leaves Dunes West Boulevard mostly as is
- Provides a multi-use path connecting 17 to the new path built by Berkeley County’s Clements Ferry Project
After years of work and months of reconfigurations, Charleston County Officials are hoping the latest design is a winning plan.
“We feel very confident that we’ve come up with an alternative that is acceptable,” says Richard Turner, Deputy Director of Public Works for Charleston County. “We’ve worked really hard to minimize the impacts.”
The proposal would expand Highway 41 near the Wando River to four lanes to the Phillips Community. From there, the road shrinks to three lanes through the Phillips Community. A two-lane parkway would run around Park West before dropping back onto Highway 41 below the Phillips Community. Officials say this would divert roughly a third of traffic off of Highway 41.
The road would expand to four lanes at the Laurel Hill Parkway Connection headed towards Highway 17. Traffic from Highway 41 to 17 would be diverted away from the Seven Mile Community through Winnowing Way and Porchers Bluff Road. An extra lane would be added to Highway 17 through the 41/17 intersection.
Turner says the compromise was a result of community engagement and research over months of work.
“That’s why we’ve gone back and forth so many times, to make sure that we get it right,” says Turner. “It isn’t always the fastest process, it’s really just working with the community and getting that feedback.”
Those living in the area are concerned about losing property, safety and increased traffic in the area. Charleston County Councilman Robert Wehrman, who represents a portion of the district, believes the plan appeals to all sides.
“You know it’s not perfect on any front but I do think that it is a significant improvement over what the future could be without it,” says Wehrman.
The project is estimated to carry a 148 million dollar price tag and is expected to meet the traffic need over the next 20 years but not the projects original 2045 goal. Wehrman says it’s time to move to the next phase of design and planning.
“I think that we pay a cost both in real terms and perhaps in tangible terms for sort of delaying and delaying and delaying,” says Wehrman.
After more than four years of work, conversations, compromise and only 15% of the plan complete, officials are hopeful they’re one step closer to paving the way forward.
“We’ve got a long way to go but this is a big step getting some consensus within the community is what we’re after,” says Turner.
View the full proposal below: