Charleston City Council passes 1st reading of citywide transportation plan


Charleston City Council passed the first reading of the citywide transportation plan Tuesday night. 

The transportation plan identifies 13 areas across the city for traffic improvements. The city was able to prioritize areas based on community input.

The Executive Director for Charleston Moves, Katie Zimmerman, supports what's in the plan.

"This plans gives credence to a lot of different modes of transportation which is absolutely what we need, we are not going to be able to build our way, widen our way out of this problem," Zimmerman said.

The plan took into consideration the lack of safety of some intersections and goes into how to improve them. It also estimates how much the improvements will cost and potential funding sources.

The citywide transportation plan is part of the long-range plan for the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments making the projects eligible for federal and state funding.

The Director of Traffic and Transportation for Charleston, Keith Benjamin says there were some key points that came from people who attended the community input sessions. Those include people wanting to make sure that infrastructure aligns with growth, people want walkable communities, and they also wanted to make sure affordable housing was available so people could have the option of living near where they work.

"The long-range plan is pretty much the barometer for what is prioritized for transportation in the region," Benjamin said. "So if you're not on that list, you're not in line for funding. So for us to decide on three corridors and 10 intersections that we say as a city should be a priority is huge."

For example, one of the 13 areas selected is the intersection at Lockwood Boulevard and Beaufain Street.

The plan recommends adding in crosswalks and a crossing countdown signal. It also suggests adding a median on Lockwood to help slow down traffic.

"We have to think about safety within the public right of way with all modes of transportation not just some," Benjamin said.

Some of the other 13 hot spots are Morrison Drive, Sam Rittenburg Boulevard near Orange Grove Road, Clements Ferry Road and Maybank Highway.

While the improvements vary for each area some of the common changes include adding cross walks, turn lanes, medians, in addition to improving drainage and widening roads to help make them safer.

"So as a city and a county we have to be okay with recognizing our issues around safety," Benjamin said. "We're number one in the state in bike and pedestrian deaths and injuries, number two in terms of speed fatalities, we're number five when it comes to DUI fatalities."

Zimmerman said she was hopeful that council would pass the first reading of the plan.

"The citywide transportation plan included People Pedal [Plan] which is vital as far as completing the network downtown, so this is a big deal," Zimmerman said.

Here's the full plan, which you can also find at this link:

The specifics on the 13 hot spots begin on page 70.

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