CITIZEN JOURNALISM:

 

4h ANNUAL WESTIE AWARDS

 WEATHER:

STRAIGHTENING OUT SAM RITTENBERG

By Kristin Hackler
Community Editor

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sam rittenberg boulevard intersection
A rough proposal on improvements to the Highway 61/Sam Rittenberg intersection.

The snarl of traffic at the intersection of Highway 61 and Sam Rittenberg Boulevard has been an issue for years, but it looks like there might be some relief in the not-too-distant future. Charleston County recently announced that it will be holding a public meeting to discuss improvements to this cumbersome intersection on October 18 at West Ashley’s Jewish Community Center. Proposed improvements include the construction of left turn lanes on S.C. Route 61 (Ashley River Road) coming from Wappoo Road and Wallace School Road toward Sam Rittenberg; extending the turn lane on S.C. Route 7 (Sam Rittenberg) from Wappoo Road to 61; widening lanes to provide 11 foot thru lanes and 14 foot shared use lanes on 61; improving driveways; and improving traffic signal timing. The overall goal of the project is to “improve safety and provide relief from traffic congestion that is currently experienced at the intersection.”

In a May 2011 application amendment for the completion of I-526 sent to the State Infrastructure Bank Board, Charleston County listed six improvement projects that "will improve the capacity, safety, and mobility of the West Ashley, James Island, and Johns Island area in an environmentally sensitive manner" and this project was among them.

According to the proposal, the project will cost approximately $35 million and encompass roughly four thousand feet of S.C. Route 7 and five thousand feet of S.C. Route 61. Ideally, the improvements will reduce intersection delays and cut the car queue length "from approximately 1,900 feet (76 cars) to 765 feet (31 cars), and 900 feet (36 cars) to 475 feet (19 cars) along west and southbound approaches, respectively."

Additionally, Charleston County staff has requested the use of eminent domain on all 29 commercial properties within the project area if right of way acquisition becomes necessary in order to avoid any long term delays on the project.

“Out of the 29 parcels, we anticipate the need to acquire right of way on 12 of those parcels ranging from 20 square feet to 7239 square feet. [As for] the remaining parcels, we expect to need permission to construct items such as driveways, storm drainage structures, and shoulder slopes as well as install erosion control items,” states Dan Pennick, Charleston County Zoning and Planning Director.

County representatives were quick to note, however, that eminent domain will only be enforced after all efforts to reasonably negotiate the purchase of the necessary right of way have been exhausted and the negotiations are causing a significant delay to the project.

The public meeting will begin with a brief presentation at 6 p.m., followed by an open house where residents may review set displays of the proposed project design and ask questions of engineering and right-of-way personnel, who will be on-hand until the meeting closes at 8 p.m. Attendees are welcome to submit their comments in writing during the meeting, or via the Charleston County Roadwise website at www.ccroadwise.org/projects/sam_rittenberg-SC61/comments.php or by regular mail until Friday, November 2. Regular mail may be sent to: The Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Services Building; Attn: Richard Turner; 4045 Bridge View Drive, Suite C-204; North Charleston, SC 29405.

The Jewish Community Center is located at 1645 Raoul Wallenberg Boulevard in West Ashley. For more information about the project including upcoming status, scheduling, and design, visit www.ccroadwise.org/projects/sam_rittenberg-SC61/index.phpwww.ccroadwise.org/projects/sam_rittenberg-SC61/index.php.