Doubt about a Roundabout
SCDOT Safety revisits proposed Riverland/Camp roundabout plans with Riverland Crossing HOA
By Charlie Morrison
A recently proposed $700,000 South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) project to improve safety at the intersection of Camp Road and Riverland Dr. by installg a roundabout has become the latest in what, these days, a long list of development projects slated for James Island to draw the ire of area residents.
In this case, the residents questioning the project reside in the Riverland Crossing neighborhood, of which four homes would be forced to give up right-of-way according to the plan for the intersection.
In the hopes of bridging what residents at that time perceived as an information gap between the two groups, the Riverland Crossing homeowner’s association (RCHOA) requested a meeting with SCDOT representatives, a meeting they got when a contingent of SCDOT representatives voluntarily agreed to meet with residents last Monday evening at the home of Riverland Crossing resident Donna Dawson.
Keith Riddle of the SCDOT’s Traffic Engineering arm spearheaded the design of the re-developed intersection, plans for which were developed by partner Stantec Engineering. Riddle opened the meeting by explaining the project from their point of view.
Riddle first explained that though the intersection of Riverland Dive and Central Park Rd. accounted for more vehicle accidents during the time frame examined in the Riverland and Camp study, those at the latter intersection were of typically of the right-angle, “T-bone” variety, the most dangerous of all vehicular accident types, according to Riddle.
For that reason, he further explained, the intersection of Riverland and Camp Road has been prioritized. Riddle did state, however, that the intersection of Central Park Rd. and Riverland Drive is also on the SCDOT’s short-term docket, and a signal will be installed at the intersection regardless of the outcome of the roundabout discussions.
On the quirky intersection of Riverland with Camp, Riddle was to the point.
”As long as that section’s left as it is the potential is out there for a really deadly crash to occur,” he said. “We looked at all kinds of options to treat the crash pattern and the best treatment to address right-angle crashes at intersections is a single lane roundabout.”
Riddle further explained that the safety project fell under the jurisdiction of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). As a Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program project, flexibility on design was nearly impossible.
Further complicating matters, noted the well-versed residents is the fact that the undeveloped, nearly 300-acre tract across the road from the neighborhood owned by the Charleston Museum was recently designated a federally protected historic site.
FHWA guideline ‘4F,’ which applies in such cases states, states that “DOT agencies cannot approve the use of land from publicly owned parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or public and private historical sites.” For all intents and purposes, the Charleston Museum property can’t be touched by any project redesign.
Impediments to plan alterations went far beyond the Museum property and guideline 4F, however. Said Riddle, any alterations to the plan would kill the project.
“If we were to move further south, further west into the Museum property we would also have to relocate the bridge which we would not have the money to do,” said Riddle, who added that they would then look to spend the money on one of many projects they’ve on their docket.
And while last Monday’s meeting was a large step in fulfilling the group’s requirement of having a seat at the table, the RCHOA’s choice when it comes to an intersection without the traffic count numbers to warrant a signal yet the accident history to necessitate a roundabout was between two options, the status quo or the roundabout.
Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, who along with her colleague on Council Joe Qualey attended the meeting perhaps summed it up best.
“If it meant impacting the (RCHOA) properties as much as planned, versus no project, y’all are going to have to decide as a group of homeowners whether you want to say ‘we’d rather you leave the darn thing alone,” said Condon.
“I’m not going to lie to you, if you were to send that letter, that would kill the project,” said Riddle, confirming Condon’s assertion.
© 2013 Wiser Time Publishing, Inc.