Consider Plan E for suicide merge

Consider Plan E for suicide merge
January 04 16:17 2019 Print This Article

Charleston County transportation officials submitted four plans to improve safety and traffic flow at the intersection of Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and Old Towne Road, often termed “suicide merge.” You may view the plans, labeled Alternative A, B, C, and D, at But what if you don’t think any of those plans will improve traffic flow? Consider Plan E.

More troublesome than suicide merge during the morning rush hour is the intersection of Orange Grove Road and Sam Rittenberg, where is can take three light changes for cars headed to I-26 to turn onto Sam Rittenberg. Orange Grove is used as a cut-through road. A lot of commuters from the Bees Ferry Road corridor travel up Highway 61, turn left onto Raoul Wallenberg Boulevard, right onto Ashley Hall Road, and left onto Orange Grove, where traffic backs up. It makes it difficult for residents of Huntington Woods, Ashley Hall Manor, Charlestowne Estates III, and Sandhurst from turning onto the road.

Charleston County transportation planners should consider a Plan E which keeps the Ashley Hall Road traffic going all the way to the Sam Rittenberg intersection, adding a second left turn lane, and lengthening the left turn signal during morning rush hour traffic. Plan E should also time a light at the intersection of Old Towne and Sumar Street (by the former Northbridge Piggly Wiggly) to prevent the suicide merge. The same light timing exists at the intersection of Old Towne and Highway 61 on either side of the Rite Aid store.

Any new traffic design impacting these high-traffic West Ashley intersections would require SCDOT approval, because the roads involved are state roads. SCDOT has not been involved in the planning process. There is no guarantee that SCDOT would approve any of the proposed designs, including a possible Plan E. Residents have until January 31 to submit comments on this project, using this form. The response rate so far has been light, possibly because many residents didn’t like any of the four options presented.