by Paul Bowers
On Tues. Sept. 23 at 5 p.m., the S.C. Department of Transportation will hold a public input session for its long-term intermodal transportation plan ... at the Daniel Island School, which is inaccessible via public transportation and all but impossible to reach on a bicycle from off of the island.
CARTA buses do not run to Daniel Island, a high-rent enclave in Berkeley County. This might not be a problem if the SCDOT only wanted to talk about, say, interstate highways (I-526 is the only way on and off the island unless you want to schlep out to Highway 41). But an entire section of the state agency's Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan is devoted to public transportation, including existing services and regional transit needs.
SCDOT Statewide Planning Chief Mark Pleasant says the site on Daniel Island was chosen partly because it could be used free of cost, because it was handicap-accessible, and because it had wireless internet.
"We tried to consider [public transit access] in these different locations across the state, but if this particular one does not have mass transit access, we'll have to look at that," Pleasant says. "I don't know if that may mean we'll have to do a follow-up meeting at another location. We'll have to talk about that."
William Hamilton, a local public transit activist and founder of the bus-rider group Hungryneck Straphangers, is livid about the choice of location. He's working with other Charleston-area nonprofits to charter a private bus that will shuttle interested parties from the CARTA Superstop at Rivers and Cosgrove Avenues in North Charleston (click here for more details), but he says the SCDOT could have easily picked a more suitable site.
"The whole thing is a strain," Hamilton says. "For somebody in downtown Charleston or James Island to get to Daniel Island, even with us running a shuttle, is a pretty overwhelming effort. There were lots of places in Charleston and North Charleston where they could've held this meeting. I can think of 15 schools, the North Charleston Convention Center, and lots else."
Hamilton says he hopes the state agency chooses its public meeting location more carefully next time.
"We certainly hope nothing like this is ever done again, because this is a major hassle," Hamilton says. "This turns showing up for a public hearing into a huge project — an expensive project, too."