My take on the presentation is that I think it is sad that this region is considering a half of a billion dollars in order to shave an average of 2 minutes off the commute time for the users of the proposed roadway. I also think the location of the public hearings is unfortunate given they are both going to be downtown and not in the study area.
Moreover, wisely reworking existing areas before developing new land; wisely focusing on a diversity of travel modes; wisely returning to town and village patterns proven through the years is possible through other alternatives (mass transit and New Way to Work). This is the emerging vision nationwide and could be the vision here in Charleston County. It is truly unfortunate that the SCDOT’s preferred alternative does not reflect this emerging vision.
In 2007, as I mentioned last Friday, over 300 leaders from throughout the Region gathered to participate in an event called the Urban Land Institute’s Reality Check to determine how and where the Region should grow. There was a tremendous consensus that the growth should occur along the I-26 corridor from Summerville …to Downtown Charleston. So, naturally our infrastructure should be an investment in how and where we want to go, so then why are we investing a half of a billion dollars on rural Sea Islands? The cost of a light rail application with 12 stops from Summerville to Downtown Charleston would cost $1.3 billion dollars.
Our local match could be the cost of the proposed extension of I-526 and the rest could be funded through the Federal Government’s TIGER II program—cities across the country are funding light rail and streetcar applications and extensions not highway expansion projects. This has much to do with the Livability Principles that are stated in the Notices of Funding Available (NOFAs) for the aforementioned grant programs. Would this project meet these principles? I know our Region can do better.