It is truly baffling that in the year 2010 such a sophisticated region is considering the expansion of a highway that was designed nearly 40 years ago. With a price tag of half a billion dollars, our region could be making a more sophisticated infrastructure investment, rather than a sprawl-inducing highway that will reduce commute time on average less than two minutes.
The time has come for our region to reprioritize our infrastructure agenda. We are not living in the year 2005, but rather we are in the midst of one of the worst economic recessions the world has ever seen. Just as the federal government has reprioritized its infrastructure agenda to promote livability, sustainability and smart growth, we in Charleston should judge this project in the same regard.
In 2007, over 300 leaders gathered in the Charleston region for the Urban Land Institute’s Reality Check regional planning program. The consensus was concise and cogent — our region should focus growth along the I-26 transit corridor from Summerville to downtown Charleston.
How will this $500 million, 1972 piece of infrastructure promote growth where the regional leaders agreed growth should occur? The answer is it simply will not. The Charleston region needs to reprioritize its focus on the I-26 transit corridor and make infrastructure investments such as light rail transit, which will not only provide a viable choice in transportation but also promote smart growth in our region rather than dumb growth that will result from the construction of the proposed expansion of I-526.
Kimberly A. Hicks
Split Hickory Court