CTAR Retains Position on 526 Expansion
CTAR Retains its Position of Support for the Expansion of I-526
As our region continues to grow, the conversations regarding traffic and infrastructure have intensified. We should care how citizens move about the region, and we have a responsibility to ensure every citizen is moving safely from place to place.
Safety and the ease of mobility should be the focus of any discussion on transportation. That is why the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors® is in full support of extending 526 from West Ashley to Johns Island. We need to protect every member of our communities, those here today and those yet to come.
Johns Island has roughly 4,500 entitlements in the City of Charleston alone. Kiawah has the opportunity to develop roughly 500 acres around Freshfields and roughly 1,500 units will be developed just outside of Kiawah Island. That will lead to a great deal of stress on an already over-extended network of roads.
Mark Clark is not the silver bullet that will immediately remedy our congestion issues but it is an important part of a bigger solution. Addressing the North and South Pitchforks, implementation of the Main and 17 Flyover, getting CARTA access to the islands, examining bike and pedestrian options and completing 526 are all part of the strategy to begin addressing the transportation needs of our region.
Safe options are how we develop thriving communities. The comfort in safety creates better drivers and better drivers means eased road congestion. We cannot safely move the number of residents coming to the barrier islands without a comprehensive strategy, and that strategy must include 526.
We cannot view these islands and their future needs through a static lens. Just as we are working to anticipate future needs in housing, the economy and workforce development, Lowcountry Rapid Transit, education, public safety and more, the islands deserve all the assets we have as a community. Our infrastructure is stressed because we have not had visionary direction. We need to address 526 with the same drive and direction as the other community initiatives we have taken on.
There is no denying the updated costs gave us all a bit of sticker shock—but those numbers aren’t going to decline, they will only continue to grow. The reality is that there is not a project whose future costs will not be higher, and perhaps a bigger cost to consider is the safety of those who travel our roadways. Overtaxed roads with constant traffic congestion, residents stranded on islands, unable to get to where they need to go is a safety issue. Instead of discussing increasing costs, we should be discussing how to increase the safety of our roads.
We need to come together as a community and decide what community we want to be. Do we want to be stuck with the same infrastructure in worse conditions or do we want to embrace that we need to be thinking of the future and not our static condition? We believe in planning for the future and our future generations’ needs.
Planning for the future are what thriving communities do. They anticipate the growing needs and implement smart strategies that address those concerns. We believe 526 is part of the solution to the infrastructure and safety dilemmas the barrier islands face. We encourage our leadership to continue putting safety above all else and protect the citizens of our Charleston region.
Wil Riley, CEO, Charleston Trident Association of Realtors®
Wil Riley is the CEO of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors® with a membership of over 7,000 across Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, and Dorchester Counties.