The effort to change one of the peninsula's last fast express routes to a two-way street has hit a hurdle: traffic congestion. For years, the city has been turning the one-way streets that crisscrossed the peninsula into two-way routes. Wentworth and Beaufain streets and portions of Ashley and Rutledge avenues have been converted with few complaints and high praise from neighbors who applaud the measure for slowing traffic. Meanwhile, residents and businesses along Spring and Cannon streets are anxiously awaiting their two-way shift in mid-2012.
Coming Street was supposed to be next on the list, but it offered unique challenges as engineers began testing how a two-way Coming would handle traffic. Unlike the other one-way routes that were easily paired off, Coming doesn't have a parallel route to share the burden. If the street is converted without a sister street, commuting times on the route would double during the afternoon.
One proposed alternative would convert the largely unused St. Philip Street to two-way traffic.
City traffic consultant Richard Day says that St. Philip, which is one block over from Coming Street, would absorb some of Coming's increased traffic. "There would be congestion but in the realm of what there is today," he says.
But that proposal also has two sizeable drawbacks. The increased traffic may not be welcomed by residents along St. Philip and a small portion of Line Street connecting commuters to the Crosstown. And while St. Philip may not be used by many motorists, it's a frequent avenue for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly around the College of Charleston.
The city's transportation staff will present its findings to the neighborhoods in the Coming and St. Philip area for feedback, but City Council members seemed very hesitant to use St. Philip as an option. "It's a street that should have less traffic, not more," says City Councilman Mike Seekings. "I'm in favor of alleviating the problems on Coming, but we need to do it the right way."