Camp’s Critical Connections
Reconfiguration and a roundabout slated for pair of Camp Road Intersections
By Charlie Morrison
The elephant in the room when it comes to the debate over how James Island develops in the coming years is undoubtedly the colossal issue of the proposed extension to the Interstate 526 Mark Clark Expressway. The proposed project to extend the Mark Clark Expressway across Johns and James Island and the debate over it casts a long shadow, fitting for an infrastructure project that survived four decades of public debate. And while proposed projects to alter I-526 and to a lesser, though a significant extent, Harborview Road have captured headlines, a number of small-scale projects to improve existing intersection infrastructure on James Island may prove every bit as relevant in the day-to-day lives of James Island residents.
A pair of projects, designed to improve busy intersections along Camp Road, are perhaps the farthest along in the process. And may prove the most impactful on to the island’s transportation in the short term. As evidenced by this pair, however, no government-sponsored projects are alike.
Camp Road and Folly Roads
The $6 million Folly and Camp intersection improvement project is funded through the half-cent sales tax County voters approved in 2004, though it didn’t get the go-ahead until it was included in a bundle of projects to be addressed with a $205 million bond referendum the County acquired against revenues to be generated over the potentially 25-year lifespan of the half-cent sales tax.
The County held three public meetings to sequester public input from November of 2007 through August of 2008. The initial project drew the ire of many conservation-minded islanders, as it necessitated removing dozens of grand trees along the roadway. Along with the well-attended public meetings in which County Roadwise personnel were grilled in typical James Island fashion, activist group Islanders for Responsible Expansion (IRE) led the charge to make changes to the existing Roadwise plan for the road. IRE leadership included newly elected S.C. Senate District 41 representative Paul Thurmond, former James Island Town Councilwoman Robin Welch, Amy Fabri, operations manager of James Island-based Polymer Ventures, and veteran JIPSD Commissioner Rod Welch. In the end, the number of grand trees to be removed in the project was reduced from 41 to five, proving that compromise is possible when it comes to these projects.
It should be noted, that as of May 2012 County Transportation head Jim Armstrong facilitated a property owner request that four more grand trees be removed, upping the total, as it stands now to nine after the County approved of a variance requested by the property owner.
The Roadwise project to improve the intersection will involve significant alterations. Additional dedicated turn lanes for both left and right turning vehicles will be added for cars driving southeast down Folly Road before making a turn on to Camp. The additional left turning lane will operate alongside the current lane, making it possible for two lanes of vehicles to turn left on to Camp, which itself will be widened to accommodate the extra lane of cars.
Additional changes include the installation of dedicated left turn lanes added to both sides of Camp Road approaching Folly Road, along with a dedicated right turn lane that will be added on Camp Road turning right on Folly Road toward downtown Charleston. Eugene Gibbs Street and Rivers Point Row will be also be realigned, sidewalks installed and drainage upgraded to coincide with the changes to the 1,000-foot stretch of roadway. Ground breaking on the project is estimated to begin later on this year.
Camp Road and Riverand Drive
At the precarious intersection of Camp Road and Riverland Drive, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is planning on installing a roundabout. The intersection is unique, to say the least, with the western end of Camp Road ending in a ‘Y’ intersection as opposed to a “T.” In addition, the fork at the end of Camp Road. intersects with a “S” turn at Riverland Drive, further complicating matters. It’s the uniqueness of the physical intersection, that SCDOT Safety Projects Engineer Keith Riddle attributes to the 14 “serious” accidents that have occurred at the intersection from January of 2008 through November 2011. Of the 14, Riddle attributes nine to diminished sightlines inherent in the bizarre interchange.
Many residents of the nearby Riverland Crossing neighborhood are none too pleased with the intersection, nor with the process that led up to the project being finalized. In what some in the group perceive as cajoling between the City of Charleston, the Charleston Museum, which owns property on Riverland’s western border, and SCDOT, the footprint of the roundabout will necessitate claiming right of way territory from the Riverland Crossing homeowner’s association.
Residents note that the physical proximity of the proposed roadway to their homes given the loss of right of way is regrettable. They lament the increased noise and litter the road will bring, not to mention the decrease in value to their properties they’ll likely see in the coming years. The residents have scheduled a meeting with SCDOT representatives, though at press time, the day and time of the meeting hadn’t yet been set.
For more information on the Charleston County Roadwise program to improve the intersection at Camp Road and Folly Road, see the project website at jamesislandsc.us/camp_and_folly_improvement_project.php.
For more information on the SCDOT project to install a roundabout at the intersection of Camp Road and Riverland Dr., see scdot.org, give project manager Kieth Riddle a call at (803) 737-0403, or email him at email@example.com.
© 2013 Wiser Time Publishing, Inc.