Transportation: Charleston County Council may decide Thursday to pass the buck when it comes to controversial plans to extend Interstate 526 from Savannah Highway to the James Island Connector.
In development for years, the current Department of Transportation plan would create a 35-mph parkway with two exits on Johns Island and several intersections on James Island, meeting up with the connector at Folly Road. Although the plan was strongly opposed by residents at several public hearings last year, it wasn't enough to scare the DOT, which is funding the bulk of the $489-million project.
But it did send County Council members back to the drawing board. The council still has to make a final decision before the project moves forward. Councilman Vic Rawl has offered an alternative plan that would provide a new route onto Johns Island that would not cross the river to James Island. That idea was dismissed by DOT officials who argue that isn't what the state has agreed to pay for.
Now, County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor is ready to punt the project to the DOT and will seek advice from county attorneys about leaving the decision up to the state. The council is expected to discuss the issue in an executive session on Thursday night and may vote on the issue afterward in a public meeting. To accommodate recognizable public interest, the meeting will be in Council Chambers, 4045 Bridge View Drive. Committee meetings begin at 4:15 p.m.
Also, Charleston City Council will be back in council chambers Tuesday. A census workshop begins at 3 p.m. The shifting racial outline of the city will likely have significant impacts on the African American representation on the council. The Ways and Means Committee meets at 4:30 p.m. to consider the changing realities of the Magnolia development in the neck area. And City Council will be taking the final vote on changes to the rickshaw permits, moving to a bidding process and allowing more bikes on the streets in the evening and late-night hours. The meeting is at 80 Broad St.