Lowcountry leaders optimistic about 526 completion

Lowcountry leaders optimistic about 526 completion
July 16 19:44 2018 Print This Article

Five Lowcountry elected officials addressed the East Cooper Republican Club Monday, expressing their support for the completion of I-526. Former State Representative Chip Limehouse, who serves on the seven-member State Transportation Infrastructure Board (STIB), also spoke in favor of the project, which has been under contract since 2007. The STIB voted 4-3 on June 26 to cancel the contract. Charleston County government responded with a letter threatening a lawsuit if STIB does not honor the existing contract to put $420 Million toward the project, which would connect West Ashley with Johns Island and Johns Island with James Island. Governor Henry McMaster sent out a letter Friday to STIB and Charleston County officials asking for a good-faith negotiation process.

Charleston County Councilman Brantley Moody, who represents thousands of West Ashley constituents who are trapped in gridlock along Savannah Highway on a daily basis, said that up to 30,000 cars pass through West Ashley each day on the way to James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah and Seabrook. He also said that STIB would not meet with Charleston County officials to discuss the Mark Clark Expressway Financial Plan, which committed $317 Million in local funding for the project.

State Senator Sandy Senn noted that she conducting polling which shows that 87% of her constituents in West Ashley, Johns Island and James Island support completing I-526. Responding to a question that suggested that there was significant opposition to the project from the people who live on Johns Island and James Island, Senn said, “You must be getting your news from the Post and Courier.” The Coastal Conservation League is a local lobbying group which opposes the project. Moody referred to the opposition as a “small, vocal minority.”

State Representative Lin Bennett encouraged people to call Governor McMaster’s office at 803-734-2100 or e-mail his staff and let him know that they support his efforts to revive the project. Representative Nancy Mace added that post engagement on Facebook and Twitter would also inform the Governor’s staff on how popular the project is in the Lowcountry.