Clements Ferry Road has transformed from a low-density, two-lane country road into top area of high traffic concern for Berkeley County officials.
Signaling a time of population growth in the Cainhoy peninsula area, the road averaged 13,800 vehicles per day in 2015, according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT). By 2040, the number is expected to skyrocket to an estimated 58,273 cars per day.
To facilitate the growing traffic concerns, SCDOT already completed the first phase of the road-widening project, increasing Clements Ferry Road from two lanes to four lanes along the five-mile section between Interstate 526 and Jack Primus Road.
The first portion of the project was completed in August 2019.
The Phase 2 widening will increase the road from two lanes to four lanes on the 4.5-mile stretch of the road running between Jack Primus Road and S.C. Highway 41 near the Wando River with an estimated price tag of nearly $65 million.
While SCDOT managed the first phase of the project’s construction, Berkeley County will head the second phase of the road’s development. The county will fund the project through Berkeley County’s one-cent sales tax program that helps fund roadway projects.
Bids for construction of the road are due on Sept. 10. A recommendation as to who will receive the contract should be announced within 30 days following the receipt and evaluation of the bids.
The actual notice to proceed on construction will be established after the contractor is selected, but work on the road is expected to begin later in 2020. The construction is expected to be completed between 2023 and 2024.
David Largent is a Cainhoy peninsula resident who lives on Rivers Reach Drive, which directly connects to Clements Ferry Road.
He said the growing number of residential neighborhoods being built off of the road is one key ingredient to increased traffic numbers.
“Each subdivision that branches onto Clements Ferry Road represents thousands of cars that use that road. There’s always more families moving back here, which adds more fuel to the fire,” he said.
In the meantime, residents should stay alert for traffic dangers and delays on Clements Ferry Road. “You just don’t know what to expect, that’s the bottom line,” Largent said.
One lane of travel and property access will be maintained during construction. Lower speed limits in work zones will be established to maintain the safety of drivers and construction personnel performing work.
“Motorists should anticipate construction traffic entering the roadway and be on alert while traveling through the work zone,” Jenna-Ley Jamison, assistant public information officer for the county, said.
The project will add one additional lane in each direction along with turn lanes throughout the 4.5-mile section of the road. “These improvements will increase capacity and improve safety along the entire route,” she said.
“Once completed, the widened road will not only decrease traffic congestion in the area, but also contribute to an enhanced quality of life in the community,” Johnny Cribb, county supervisor, said.
One victim of the new construction will be the “Meeting Tree,” a historic 15-foot, 7-inch live oak tree that currently sits on the eastern edge of the road.
“Impacting the tree was unfortunately unavoidable. The tree is presently in the roadway right of way, and to avoid impacting it would have caused significantly higher impacts to the properties on the opposite side of the road and increased environmental impacts significantly. Additionally, it would have driven up the overall project costs significantly,” Jamison said.