Sea Islands Greenway

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Is the Sea Islands Greenway the same project as the I-526 expansion?
No. The Sea Islands Greenway project is not the same project as the propsed I-526 expansion. They are two separate projects, both trying to address infrastructure issues in Charleston County. The I-526 expansion is a project sponsored by the SCDOT that involves West Ashley, Johns Island and James Island. The Sea Islands Greenway is a proposed restricted-access scenic road that will run across Johns Island. To learn more about the I-526 project, you can visit the Mark Clark Expressway Web site.

Why do we need to consider another road? What's wrong with the existing ones?
Once the drawbridges on Main Road and Maybank Highway were replaced with fixed level bridges, population growth on Johns Island was inevitable. Traffic levels continue to increase, and the roads are becoming more congested. For years, the solution for this issue has been a political debate. However, after careful consideration and numerous feasibility studies, Charleston County narrowed the options down to two alternatives - widening the current roads or building a new road. The roads on Johns Island were originally built as 'farm-to-market' roads. They were never intended to accommodate the current traffic volume.

Doesn't building a new road just lead to more traffic?
Yes, building new roads can lead to more traffic, but the current road infrastructure is unable to accommodate the current traffic volumes and something has to be done about that. The roads on Johns Island are dangerous and unsafe. On average, seven people lose their lives each year on Johns Island roads. The Sea Islands Greenway will divert nearly half of the traffic currently on Main, Bohicket and River Roads - improving safety for everyone traveling on the island.

What about disrupting the environment, homeowners and natural habitat?
As with any construction project, disruption of the environment is inevitable. Retaining the overall rural nature of Johns Islands requires careful planning for essential infrastructure. We have to look at the bigger picture. Much of the land that will be used for the Sea Islands Greenway is currently available for sale. Commercial development on the island is inevitable, but the Sea Islands Greenway is a solution that will address the current infrastructure issues, while actually minimizing development on the island.

How will development be minimized if you are building a road?
Sea Islands Greenway will be a limited-access road. There will be a protective green buffer along the road prohibiting housing developments, strip malls or other businesses being built.

How many homes and parcels of land will be affected?
The construction of the Sea Islands Greenway will disrupt fewer homes, historic churches and business as opposed to the other option being considered - widening Main and Bohicket Roads. With the Sea Islands Greenway project, 78 properties would be impacted. Whereas, the widening of Main and Bohicket Roads would impact more than 500 separate parcels of land.

How many grand oaks will be removed with the Sea Islands Greenway project?
As few as two grand oaks will be removed with the Sea Islands Greenway. Nearly 30 grand oaks could be removed if residents decide to support the option of widening the roads.

Do we really only have two options to address this issue?
Of course not, we can always do nothing but at what cost? On average, seven lives are lost each year currently on the roads. Based on a traffic study prepared for county officials in 2008, There were approximately 1000 recorded accidents on Johns Island between 2005-2007. Of those, 557 were injuries and 19 fatalities. Ten of the fatalities were were a result of tree impacts. Opponents of the Sea Islands Greenway, also suggest minor changes to the current roads such as realignment in certain areas, decreasing the speed limit and increasing law enforcement patrol. This does not improve safety for runners or bikers nor does it address the inevitable growth the island will experience over the next 10 years. Doing nothing or making minor improvements is not the answer for a major issue.

What is a Greenway anyway?
A greenway is similar to a parkway but includes 'green' features to help protect the landscape around the road and maintain the natural characteristics of the environment around the road. As many as 101 acres will be placed under conservation easement with the development of the Sea Islands Greenway. Planners for the Sea Islands Greenway are pushing to include bike paths, jogging trails, bird-watching and picnic areas. Everyone closely involved with the Sea Islands Greenway is committed to respecting the rural characteristic of the island and ensuring the Greenway provides a long-term balance between people and nature.

What is the cost of the Sea Islands Greenway?
The estimated cost to build the Sea Islands Greenway is approximately $25 million as opposed to the construction cost to widen Main and Bohicket, which could be upward of $60 million. There are also right of way costs with the Greenway, which could run anywhere from $20,000 to $200,000 per acre for undeveloped land. Final right-of-way costs are uncertain until negotiations with land owners can be completed.

Is the Sea Islands Greenway going to be a toll-road?
It could be. Right now, there have been no commitments from local, or state government to support the Sea Islands Greenway financially. Therefore, the Greenway could be funded by public or private means. If private, then it would be a toll road. The benefit of the toll road is that the upkeep and construction is paid for through toll fees vs. taxes. But again, the cost of doing nothing is not an option when people continue to lose their lives on our roads.

How long is the proposed Sea Islands Greenway?
The actual route is still being considered but the most viable option has the Greenway with an estimated length of 11 miles.

Sea Islands Greenway Initiative   •   PO Box 1136   •   Johns Island, SC 29455   •