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With the continued growth of the Charleston area and the increasing congestion on Highway 61 and Interstate 26, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce believes that completing the Glenn McConnell Parkway is one of our region’s most important infrastructure needs.
The Chamber supports the vision of the project that extends the Parkway from its current location, crossing U.S. Highway 17A and ending at I-26. In support of this project, the Chamber has formed the Infrastructure Visioning Task Force, whose top priority is improving infrastructure in our region and our state. The Chamber has met with elected officials in Charleston County, Dorchester County, the City of Charleston, and property owners in the area in order to advocate for the completion of the project.
The Chamber views the extension as a major arterial road that will provide an alternative to the congested Interstate 26 corridor for residents of Summerville. The growth west of Summerville is already happening. East Edisto has signed development agreements with Dorchester and Charleston Counties; that growth coupled with two new schools and more developments coming will increase the pressure on Highway 61 and I-26, highlighting the need for an additional artery. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we believe this extension is critical as it provides a safe evacuation route for residents in the case of a natural disaster.
As we all know, our region is growing rapidly, and the existing infrastructure cannot accommodate the needs of our community. Opponents to the Glenn McConnell Parkway extension argue that alternative transportation options would be better suited for the area, such as light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit. The Chamber agrees that these options would be a great addition to the Charleston region, but that does not negate the necessity of the Glenn McConnell Parkway.
We view the Glenn McConnell extension as an alternative transportation option. Light rail, which would cost nearly $70 million per mile, is simply not realistic for our region. While the Chamber agrees that alternative transportation options are a worthwhile investment, in order for these options to be feasible, the community has to have an appropriate population and accompanying densities in order to support the transportation opportunities.
Further, it would be even better to have the Glenn McConnell Parkway extended in addition to these alternative transportation options, because that would decrease traffic even more. We support the extension of the Glenn McConnell Parkway and further support additional transportation options should they become feasible for our region.