Change Coming for Honey Hill Road

Honeyhill Road off of Ft. Johnson Road at the baseball field has been a poorly-maintained dirt road for decades or more. Charleston County has targeted nearly $100,000 to improve the road, although it will remain an earthen road  – Photo by Joe Felder

Change Coming for Honeyhill Road

Overhaul and eventual paving receives $90K in initial funding

By Charlie Morrison

Contributing Writer

The issue of how to efficiently and effectively maintain the hundreds of earthen, “community roads” in Charleston County has vexed County officials since the 1960’s. On James Island, home to more than 200 “community roads,” the issue has been even further complicated. The fate of the island’s “community roads” have been tied to the incessant cycle of incorporation and court-ordered dissolution of the now defunct municipality of the Town of James Island. The most recent, third incorporated Town began the process of addressing the maintenance of these “community roads,” but concrete plans dissolved with the Town itself late last year. Charleston County, which inherited the responsibility to maintain the roads after the Town’s demise, has recently offered up to residents a glimmer of hope in the form of funding. The County’s Public Works Department recently received $90,000 in fund allocations to specifically address James Island’s Honeyhill Road, a road that of late has become the poster child for the “community road” issue.

The recent allocations are a reflection of a larger Charleston County directive to address “community roads” (now referred to as non-standard County roads). Last December, Charleston County Council voted to introduce the more than 300 roads throughout the county into their official maintenance system. The County has since begun the extensive task of surveying and documenting the non-standard roads, all of which became public roadways following County Council’s December mandate. The process of funding many of the upgrades will also take time, but less so for the residents of Honeyhill Road. Honeyhill Road, according to County Public Works Director Jim Neal, has been on the County’s radar for a long time. When the funding came through to begin the overall process of incorporating non-standard roads into the County’s system, Honeyhill Road was a natural choice to receive prioritization, and thus funding. The end goal of the Honeyhill project is for the road to be paved, according to Neal.

“The initial funding was to cover the costs initiating the project and will be stretched as far possible to deliver the project as effectively and efficiently as possible,” says Neal.

Neal and his team have been integral in initiating the process of incorporating non-standard roads into the County system, but perhaps no individual has brought more attention to the issue than Charleston County District 8 representative Anna Johnson. Addressing the issue of non-standard roads was a foundation of Johnson’s 2011 campaign for the District 8 seat, a campaign promise that she’s delivered on. Through the medium of monthly roundtable discussions she holds, Johnson has led the effort to open dialogue with the various communities on James Island.

Neal and County Public Works staffers are charged with securing the necessary right-of-way property from homeowners, surveying the tracts in question and documenting the intensive process. A public meeting will be held later this month in which the County will present their current design plans for the road, as well as to receive feedback from community members. No date has yet been set for the meeting.

The County has not finalized the mechanics of the work either, but Neal asserts most of the work will likely be performed by a combination of contractors and County Public Works in-house staffers. A timeline for the overall project and specifically Honeyhill Road cannot yet be set. “Our goal is to get the road improvement completed as quickly as we can, while being responsive to the community and other stakeholders in the process,” says Neal. “We have not finalized the timeline as we have not completed the design process. Input by the public is very important to us in this process. We are moving the project forward expeditiously and will certainly be able to have a firmer schedule once we get input and finalize the plan.”

Copyright © 2012 by Wiser Time Publishing

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