The online public information meeting for the Interstate 526 Corridor (I-526) EAST Planning and Environmental Linkages project launched by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is ending Dec. 1.
“The 23-mile connection between West Ashley and Mount Pleasant, known as the I-526 Lowcountry Corridor (LCC), has been identified by SCDOT as one of the state’s most congested interstate highways — and it’s among the Department’s top priorities statewide,” reads the project website.
Potential changes could bring more lanes, new technological advancements or other strategies aimed at meeting the growing demand for more capacity on the interstate. I-526 from North Charleston to Mount Pleasant would be widened and replaced under some SCDOT plans.
Public comment will help project leaders weigh options considered for the future of the project. The most prominent option remains widening the highway, but the possibility remains of doing nothing at all.
With components like the upgrade or replacement of the Don Holt and Wando bridges that include complicating factors like aquatic resources, relocations of residents and impacts to parks, the projects are multi-faceted and affect a large population along the corridor. In all pre-planning, the Wando Bridge was highlighted for full replacement. But the Don Holt has proven to be more complicated.
The corridor has been broken down into two distinct projects, a West phase, which runs from Paul Cantrell Boulevard in West Ashley to Virginia Avenue in North Charleston, and an East phase, which runs from Virginia Avenue to U.S. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant.
SCDOT estimates the East phase could cost around $4 billion, a massive price tag many times larger than proposals to extend I-526 from West Ashley to James Island — priced at around $725 million, according to most recent estimates in 2014. Funding sources for each project are still being explored.
The public information meeting can be found at the 526 Lowcountry Corridor website. Project leaders encourage all residents who participate to leave a comment expressing their thoughts and opinions on the project.