Residents delivered a petition to James Island Town Council last night, pleading with the town leaders to continue the fight against the Harbor View Road widening. The county plans to begin construction this summer on the $18 million project that will add a center turn lane and new sidewalks and an improved bike path on the side of the road from North Shore to Fort Johnson Road.

Harbor View Road resident Mary Beth Berry says she’s living at “ground zero.” Foretelling the project’s future implications, Berry insists an initial road-widening to accommodate more traffic will ultimately spur area development. “One thing’s for sure when widening a road: the area will go commercial,” she says. “It may take a little time, but it will happen, and before I know it there will be an insurance salesman in my house.”

Linda Palmer of Quail Run Road believes increasing the roadway widths from 26 feet to 66 feet in some areas will not resonate with many locals until its completion. “It is one thing to say it is increasing, but to see it is another thing,” she says. “Visualize the road 3 times the size it is now — many trees will be gone.”

With a lawsuit between the Town of James Island and Charleston County currently pending, residents’ steadfastness in preventing the project seems to mimic the county’s persistence in commencing construction.

The town is preparing to go to trail to block the road project. But Mayor Bill Woolsey says town officials are trying to negotiate a settlement that would address the town’s main concerns, including limiting the center turn lane to high-traffic intersections as opposed to running it up the full length of the road.

Last summer, the town created a resident committee to craft suggestions and alternatives to the county’s plan. More than 30 recommendations submitted earlier this year were rejected by the county and the state Department of Transportation. Woolsey says the county plans to begin construction on Sept. 14.

Town Councilwoman Robin Welch urges residents’ persistence in contacting town officials to halt the quickly approaching construction start time. “It’s how the problem of 526 was solved,” she says, referring to the recent County Council decision to stop that $489 million road plan. “We need everyone to start picking up the phone and contacting town officials.”