Roundabout proposal for James Island intersection tossed by committee


ByLogan Reigstad|June 3, 2021 at 5:09 PM EDT - Updated June 3 at 6:06 PM

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - After years of discussion of plans to improve an intersection on James Island, the project is now moving in a different direction.

In a 5-3 vote Thursday evening, the Charleston County Council’s Planning and Public Works Committee rescinded its previous approval of a plan to build a dog bone-shaped stretched roundabout at the intersection of Riverland Drive and Central Park Road.

The plan had previously gotten the thumbs up from the council, but Councilwoman Jenny Honeycutt, a proponent of the plan, said a change in council membership led to a change in priorities.

“What became clear is there were a number of competing priorities: that of preserving the neighborhood and the trees and the aesthetics as well as preserving property that would have to be taken in both alternatives that were presented,” she said.

Councilman C. Brantley Moody said while he thought the dog bone was the best idea, the council needs to move forward to make some improvements to what he described as a “terrible interchange” sooner rather than later.

“I trust this compromise will improve safety, that it’ll improve the connectivity you’re talking about with the sidewalks. I hope that the money we’ve spent to date is not lost; I think it can be used and incorporated into this new compromise,” he said.

It had been the preferred plan because, according to an earlier analysis, it best met the overall goals, including best reducing crashes with injuries, but it has divided some area residents.

Some – including multiple neighbors Live 5 News spoke with Thursday who didn’t want to go on camera -- would rather see a stop light which they argue would be less confusing and would not involve the county taking over as much property. Others supported the roundabout as a safer alternative.

Instead, the committee moved toward a compromise that would see improved bike and pedestrian facilities all the way to James Island County Park and Woodland Shores Road as well as flashing lights to alert drivers to the stop sign. The compromise passed with seven members in favor and one opposed.

One councilmember proposed reducing the speed limit on Riverland Drive between Maybank Highway and Camp Road, but since Riverland Drive is a state highway, the state would need to sign off on that idea.

Honeycutt said the compromise is better than nothing but that would not provide much in the way of improved traffic flow.

Some parts of the earlier alternatives – mainly the pedestrian improvements – would be able to be salvaged, she added, meaning the years put into studying other options would not be a waste.

The updated plan now moves to the full county council, which is set to meet on Tuesday.

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