A Clear Path for Camp
Town signs off on County-led Camp/Folly intersection improvements project
By Charlie Morrison
The Town of James Island, last Thursday, officially stamped their seal of approval on the Charleston County Roadwise and South Carolina Department of Transportation-led (SCDOT) project to improve the busy intersection at Folly and Camp Roads. The body voted unanimously in favor of a municipal agreement allowing the project to move forward, with the project soon to be put out to bid and construction to commence immediately after the mid-April bid deadline.
The Town’s decisive action on the Camp and Folly Roads intersection plan brings full circle a project for the intersection that began back in 2008 with a trio of public hearings on the project, public input for which formed the basis for later discussions between Roadwise and advocacy group ‘Islanders for Responsible Expansion (IRE).’ From those discussions generated a compromise on the plan all sides could live with, however, the 2011 court-ordered dissolution of the Town prevent the County from taking action until now. It wasn’t until last week, nearly a full five years after the public dialogue began, that with the endorsement of a legitimate, permanent Town of James Island, Charleston County Roadwise even could legally proceed with the project.
The plan that emerged from IRE’s deliberations with Roadwise featured a number of common-sense alterations to the original, 2008 concept design for the intersection. Of particular note, was that 90 percent of the trees to be felled with the original design, 36 of the potentially 41 grand trees originally headed to the lumberyard were saved. One of the five has since been declared “near death,” removing it from the list and further shrinking the number of 24-inch “grand trees” impacted to four requiring Board of Zoning and Appeals variances to be felled to four. Add to that a reported eight other, though not “grand,” significantly sized trees that will need to be removed as part of the process.
On Thursday, Jan. 24, Charleston County Roadwise representatives Peter Valiquette addressed council’s concerns regarding the new, enhanced drainage infrastructure featured as part of the project, assuaging Council’s concerns by explaining the new drains will direct excess water where it was supposed to go according to original comprehensive plans covering the intersection, into at and around the drainage ditches on the west side of Folly Road and Oyster Point Row on the East.
Councilman Leonard Blank raised the prospect that one feature of the project, a central concrete medians that would run along portions along the roughly 1,000-foot stretch, potentially impacting the businesses along that portion of the roadway significantly, but Valiquette assured him, business owners had been compensated for potential loss of business as part of their right-of-way settlements.
Before the Town had even sat down for their first meeting of the New Year however, the County had already voted on the most recent plan for Harborview Road, itself a compromise between SCDOT and the County. And while County Council got the headlines and the hoopla for their decisions to go ahead with plans for the Interstate 526 Mark Clark Expressway and Harbor View Road, the Town action to approve the Folly and Camp Roads intersection improvement project might prove every bit as relevant in efficiently getting James Islanders from “Point A to Point B” as either of the two, more controversial roadway projects.
For more information on the Camp and Folly Roads Improvement Project, see the project website at roads.charlestoncounty.org/projects/folly_camp/.