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Work planned for Courtenay downtown

by Kristen Hankla
Of The Post and Courier
Anyone who regularly travels Spring Street knows to avoid the far left lane near Courtenay Drive. That’s where a line of cars often sits, waiting to turn onto the already packed road leading to MUSC and multiple hospitals.
Those frustrated by the traffic congestion may soon get some relief, as Charleston County looks to spend half-cent sales tax money on several roadways in the area. Two possible improvement plans were presented to the public Jan. 29, and residents’ input on the project will be accepted through Feb. 15.
One proposal calls for converting the section of Courtenay Drive between Spring and Cannon streets from a two-way street to a one-way street allowing traffic to travel southeast only. Traffic leaving the MUSC campus would then use Bee Street and Lockwood Drive to access U.S. 17 South.
The other proposal also includes two lanes in the southeast direction for that portion of Courtenay, but additionally calls for widening it to three lanes to allow traffic to continue moving in both directions.
The two proposals are identical in every other way. If either are selected, Courtenay would be widened from two-lanes to four between Cannon and Ralph H. Johnson Drive. Bee would be widened to four lanes between Courtenay and Lockwood.
All lanes in the project area would be at least 11 feet wide to accommodate transit buses, and where possible, sidewalks would be wider than the standard five feet to accommodate the area’s heavy pedestrian traffic. Curbing would be granite and signalized intersections would be outfitted with mast arms.
About 25 people came to MUSC’s Strom Thurmond/Peter Gazes Cardiac Research Institute for the presentation of the plans, including nearby property owners, a couple of EMS workers and a visually impaired man who wanted to make sure planners didn’t forget about pedestrians.
Max Hearn, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Summerville but receives medical attention at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Hospital, asked that pedestrian crossings in the area include audible signals.
The captain of Charleston County EMS’ safety office attended the presentation to learn about possible route modifications the road improvements or construction would cause.
“If it ultimately improves traffic flow, certainly we’re in favor of it,” Cliff Parker said. Not only would better traffic flow benefit patients, it would make EMS drivers’ jobs safer, he said.
Kelly McSweeney, a resident of Cannon, said she favors the proposal that calls for widening Courtenay to three lanes. The plan is less likely to make her neighborhood a thoroughfare, she said.
She urged planners to move forward with road improvements, particularly with MUSC’s expansion plans.
For more information on the project dubbed MUSC Roadway Improvements, visit, the Web site of Charleston County RoadWise, which implements transportation improvements funded by the half-cent sales tax. Comments can be made online or by mail to the project manager, Raymond Hunter, at Charleston County RoadWise, 4401 Belle Oaks Drive, Suite 105, North Charleston, SC 29405.
Editor’s note: The article ran Feb. 1 in The Post and Courier and is reprinted with permission.

Friday, Feb. 8, 2008
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