The Ports Authority’s Board requested the study after concerns? over traffic were raised during the permitting process for terminal construction on Daniel Island. “We heard loud and clear the community’s concerns about traffic,” said Edgar A. Buck, SCSPA Board Chairman. “So we looked closely at long-range traffic projections for both the community and for the port.”
The study evaluated 15 sections of the Charleston area’s two primary arteries, interstates 26 and 526. First, it presented expectations of the community’s long-term traffic growth without port expansion. The local CHATS model provided this view, called “Background Traffic.” New port traffic from a terminal on Daniel Island was manually applied on top of these traffic counts.
The study shows that growth in other areas of the community, including residential, recreational and commercial traffic, would drive most of the road requirements over the next two decades. While Port expansion on Daniel Island would advance the need for improvements to a 5-mile segment of I-526, the growth in Port traffic is not out of line with the overall growth expected for other areas of our community.
Virtually all of the port’s impact on traffic would be centered on a section of Interstate 526 between the proposed terminal site and I-26. “Because the impact is rather limited, our attention can be focused and targeted on this area,” said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., President & CEO of the SCSPA.
“Although port traffic would only be a small piece of the infrastructure challenges facing our community, it is vital that we address them,” said Groseclose. “Congestion is as much of a concern to the Port as it is to the community. It is important that commerce and the motoring public continue to move freely, keeping our economy healthy and our quality of life high.”
The SCSPA said Wednesday that it will take a leadership role in an infrastructure planning effort to seek Federal funds.
“Because of the role the Port plays in the state and national economy, we can be very helpful in these efforts,” said? Groseclose. “In hosting one of the nation’s busiest commercial seaports, Charleston certainly deserves, and can win, preferential consideration. The Federal government recognizes a port’s role, and therefore affords favorable treatment to intermodal connections
in major seaports.”
Non-port traffic will drive a number of road improvements even before port expansion would come on line. Ten of the 15 road segments need improvement in advance of opening a new terminal;
one will even require two improvements.
Port expansion on Daniel Island will not create any new road construction needs, but will advance the need for improvements to one segment of I-526. The 5-mile section between Clements Ferry Road and I-26 would have to be improved three years sooner with port expansion than without.