by Paul Bowers
Last week, Charleston City Council voted 11-2 to take over as the sponsor of the controversial $556 million extension project for Interstate 526. But Charleston County Council still has control of the project, and they'll vote Dec. 13 on whether to hand off their biggest political football of the year.
It took an epic three-and-a-half hours of debate and public comment before City Council voted on the topic last week, and the big County Council meeting next month is shaping up to be another knock-down-drag-out.
Support for the infrastructure project was mixed to begin with, and County Council members Dickie Schweers and Herb Sass have already told the City Paper they will vote against giving City Council control. On the other side, County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor and Vice Chairman Elliott Summey have told the Post and Courier they would support giving City Council control.
Board members Joseph Qualey and Vic Rawl both said they needed to gather more information before making their decisions on the request. Rawl favors a different route for I-526 than the one that is currently on the table, known as Alternative G. Rather than connect the highway to the James Island Connector, he says he would like to widen Maybank Highway and end I-526 at the Stono River Bridge. “We were led to believe on [County] Council that it was Alternative G or nothing,” Rawl says.
So, for those of you keeping track at home, that’s two council members in favor, two against, two undecided, and three who did not respond to our inquiry. Somebody should put the Dec. 13 County Council meeting on Pay-Per-View.