CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Charleston County officials are asking the public to weigh in on proposed improvements to Savannah Highway.
The Savannah Highway Intersection and Capacity Improvement Project aims to improve safety, traffic operations and pedestrian mobility at major intersections along the highway, according to the project’s website.
Intersections along Savannah Highway being evaluated include Dupont Road, Stinson Drive, Wappoo Road, Magnolia Road, Avondale Avenue and Nicholson Street.
Proposed changes include realigning roads, adding turn lanes, widening sidewalks, adding decorative crosswalks, improving parking safety, adding medians and more.
But, local nonprofit Charleston Moves is concerned the project’s changes might not fulfill its promise to improve pedestrian mobility. The organization advocates for pedestrian and bicycle safety, and said the proposed project — “falls short.”
“What’s missing from these designs is safe, comfortable ways for pedestrians, and frankly people on bikes — and people accessing transit as well — to cross Savannah highway,” said Katie Zimmerman, executive director for Charleston Moves.
She said she would like to see the plan include more elements that enhance walkability and pedestrian safety, including wheelchair accessibility and pedestrian intervals — the few seconds pedestrians have to cross before motorists that give them a “fighting chance” to get across the street.
“Acknowledging the need to make it safe for people outside of a car — it’s just as important as improving these intersections for motorists as well,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said she believes the project is primarily focused on trying to get as many vehicles through intersections as fast as possible, which ” does not equate to safety.”
“There’s definitely room to go back and really take a look at who these designs are supposed to be serving,” Zimmerman said. “Do these designs benefit people who are even going to be driving in and out of the neighborhoods on each side? Or is this really a focus on really getting people moving along Savannah highway as quickly as possible?”
Zimmerman also said she is concerned traffic will increase once school is in session because it is not safe for children to cross Savannah Highway to reach schools in West Ashley.
As a result, instead of walking or biking, parents will drive their children to school — increasing the number of cars on the road, she said.
“Having to contend with school traffic, simply because there’s not a safe way for the kids to walk – that is nonsensical,” she said.
Both Charleston Moves and Charleston County leaders encourage the public to voice their input.
“This is your opportunity to go to the project website, and let the county staff know that you want to see actual, complete streets designed. Which means, not only prioritizing motor vehicles, but also prioritizing the safety and connection for walking and biking,” Zimmerman said.
Comments can be submitted online at savannahhighway.com/publicmeeting through September 2.
For more information on the county’s project, click here.