May 1, 2017
From the Desk of the Mayor
I understand that many of you are concerned about traffic and the impact of the Center Street lane redesign. I would like to share some data from our traffic counter and our traffic engineers.
• Traffic has always spiked around public school and local college spring breaks. In fact, this year’s spring break was comparable to last summer’s first week in July. For example, on the Sunday before spring break on April 9, we had 11,258 cars – almost identical to Sunday, July 10, 2016 (11,421 cars). Looking at weekdays, Thursday, April 13, 2017 had more cars (10,041) than we had on Thursday, July 7, 2016 (9,592). Whether this represents a new normal for the Charleston area or a predictable spring break spike, only time will tell.
• The repaving only changed four blocks of roadway: from Indian to Cooper. There was always one lane coming onto the island and the left turn between City Hall and the light at Ashley has always been there. This is a tiny segment compared to the miles of roadway leading up to the island plagued with stoplights, merges, and new developments.
• The old lanes were nonstandard widths of 9’ each. They did not comply with DOT standards and caused side swipe accidents, and traffic spacing confusion because drivers could not comfortably drive side-by-side. By widening each lane and adding a left turn lane, turning cars are removed from the lanes of travel and cars can pass safely through Center Street.
• The new system is a tremendous improvement to pedestrian safety. Now, pedestrians have a bump out from the sidewalk, only cross three lanes of traffic, and don’t contend with cars passing a stopped car to come around and in the second lane.
The City is considering several tactics to improve the flow of traffic and assist motorists with the learning curve of the new pattern. We are looking at re-spacing the parallel parking spaces on Center Street for longer spaces to allow cars to park more easily with less traffic disruption. We will apply to DOT for signage to encourage beach traffic to turn prior to Ashley and Arctic Avenues, thereby alleviating some of the backup for these two turning points.
On a different note: Chief Mims and I have just returned from the 2017 National Hurricane Conference. A lot of good information was presented during a rigorous four-day session. Chief Mims attended mostly Emergency Response sessions, while I attend the sessions on Evacuation and Communications. Stay tuned for more information to come as we approach June 1st and the beginning of the 2017 Hurricane Season. Remember, it is never too early to begin preparations, like knowing your evacuation routes, planning for evacuation with your evacuation kits of medicine, food and water for a week, and of course what to do with your pets for the storm.
As always if you have any questions please contact me at email@example.com or (843) 729-0298.