Rapid transit from Summerville to Charleston approved for development phase

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The proposed 26-mile bus system that will travel through Summerville, North Charleston and downtown Charleston is one step closer to getting federal funding.

It'll be along Highway 52 which is Rivers Avenue and Highway 78.

On Monday, The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments announced the U.S. Department of Transportation approved the Lowcountry Rapid Transit project to begin the development phase.

This will be South Carolina’s first mass transit project. The project is a BCDCOG initiative. The development phase includes design planning and the environmental review process.

Council of government officials say now that the project has been accepted to a U.S. Department of Transportation program, it can now be considered for federal funding.

“Receiving preauthorization to enter the project development phase is another huge step forward in making LCRT a reality in our region,” BCDCOG Executive Director Ron Mitchum said. “This step opens critical funding streams and puts us in position to continue generating forward momentum and progress on the project.”

CARTA Board Chairman Mike Seekings says the county already has matching funds in place.

About $200 million from Charleston County’s half cents sales tax will go towards the project. It’s total project cost is expected to be about $387.5 million.

"This is a big step for us in terms of us being able to afford and pay for a project we've needed for a long time," Seekings said.

The bus route will have its own designated lane.

The Lowcountry Rapid Transit Principal Planner, Sharon Hill, says starting this month a study will launch to determine exactly where the 18 bus stop stations will be along the bus rapid transit route.

It’s called the Transit Oriented Development Study and could take up to a year and a half to complete. It will consider opportunities for affordable housing and other developments around each bus station that will attract people to the corridor.

"What a dedicated transit lane throughout the spine of the Lowcountry means is accessibility, it means we can go and look at things in terms of rezoning and growth in a way that will have live, work, play options," Seekings said. "This transit project is so much more than just a straight line from Summerville to Downtown Charleston."

The Lowcountry Rapid Transit is expected to be completed in 2025.

Click hereto learn more about Lowcountry Rapid Transit.

"Today is a huge day for transit in the Lowcountry," Seekings said. "Lowcountry Rapid Transit is going to be a game changer..."

People who ride the bus are looking forward to the new transit system.

"I think it would be a huge help, for people who have to go that distance it would definitely cut their commute and it would be hugely beneficial all the way around," CARTA rider, Michael Glass says.

Glass says there a lot of issues now with the public transportation in the Charleston area.

"It is late many times, a lot of areas don't really get the coverage or service I think it needs so it's limited in where i can go and when I can get there," Glass said. "I end up spending a lot of my day planning out when I need to be going to bus stops and stuff like that."

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