Preparing for growth on the Cainhoy Peninsula
With the large amount of growth and development that Berkeley County has experienced over the last few years, specifically along the Clements Ferry Road corridor, and that which is currently planned, residents and local officials agree that it is vital that infrastructure follows suit.
Although development of infrastructure on the Cainhoy Peninsula up until recently seemed a bit sluggish, local government officials spoke about ongoing and upcoming projects that are addressing this issue at the Cainhoy and Daniel Island Region Public Meeting held last Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Philip Simmons High School.
Perhaps most important to the residents of the Clements Ferry/Cainhoy area is the traffic congestion on Clements Ferry Road. As many have probably noticed, the first phase of the Clements Ferry Road expansion, which runs from Interstate 526 to Jack Primus Road, began at the end of last year, explained Deputy Director of Finances for Berkeley County Tim Callanan. The $44 million dollar project, which was funded by a 1-cent sales tax added in 2009, will also feature a multi-use path along one side of the road.
“Something I’ve worked really hard on is the shared-use bicycle path,” said Callanan. “We do have some gaps that we have to find funding for…Once that gap is filled, we will have a 10-mile stretch of separated, multi-use trail that is going to connect all the way from downtown Daniel Island to (Highway 41) where Shipyard Park is where the new bridge ends… I call it a linear park. It’s something that everybody can enjoy. It gets kids out there and gets them to move around safely.”
Phase two of the Clements Ferry Road expansion, which will be funded out of the sales tax that the county began collecting in 2016, will reach from Jack Primus Road to Highway 41, where the new bridge begins, continued Callanan. The $42.9 million project will begin construction in 2019.
“[Phase two] is a little more complicated because there are more wetlands in there, so we actually have to build a bridge in there as well,” said Callanan. “It’s a little bit less expensive because we’re dealing with fewer property owners on the right of way acquisition.”
As residents who have lived in the area for the past 10 years are aware, phase one of the expansion took nine years to begin construction. According to Callanan, phase two will be much different.
“It is a state road so the control [for phase one] was handed over to SCDOT and they managed the project,” said Callanan. “Construction didn’t start until 2017. Phase two is different. We learned our lesson…The difference is, we’re managing the project… We’re pushing it along in a much more deliberate pace. The difference is eight years versus three years. Had phase one been started in three years, it’d be done by now. Not far after when phase one is completed, phase two will be complete.”
Possibly as important as the Clements Ferry Road expansion is the widening and expansion of Interstate 526, continued Callanan.
“We can widen Clements Ferry Road to four or eight lanes, but it wouldn’t make that much of a difference in the morning if your choke point is essentially at the 526 interchange,” said Callanan.
The project, which is managed by the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), will be funded by the gas tax increase that was implemented last year, stated Callanan. Phase one, which will stretch from Paul Cantrell Boulevard in West Ashley to I-26, includes a new interchange on I-26. Phase two will start in Mount Pleasant and will include the widening of Interstate 526.
“Every time you do a widening you do interchange improvements, so while it’s funded, we don’t know what it’s going to look like yet,” said Callanan. “We’re going to be involved heavily in making sure when they redesign this interchange, they do it to address the issues that creates all of the traffic that affects Clements Ferry Road. That is, again, a DOT project that is not being managed in any way, shape or form by the county. We’re going to make sure we have input.”
The county is not the only entity taking interest in the Clements Ferry Road/Cainhoy area. The City of Charleston, which has maintained focus on the area for years because of its high rate of growth, will continue to work on developing high-quality amenities for area residents to utilize, explained Charleston’s Director of Planning Preservation and Sustainability Jacob Lindsey.
“There’s going to be continued development of Cainhoy and around Clements Ferry Road,” said Lindsey. “That development will be a mix of uses and it’s something that ultimately will result in a new mixed-use community being built on the Cainhoy Peninsula. A significant amount of that work will be led by the DI Development Company and we know will be built to very high standards, in keeping with the great work that has already been done on Daniel Island.”
As the area continues to develop, Lindsey added, the City of Charleston wants to work with Berkeley County and area residents to provide new recreation opportunities for those who live in Cainhoy. While there is currently no funding allocated, city planners are in the beginning phases of budgeting for design.
“We specifically asked to hear from residents at the public briefing about parks and recreation amenities because we want to work with our partners at Berkeley County to help provide new recreation opportunities for residents of Cainhoy,” said Lindsey. “Of course, Daniel Island has an incredible network of public parks that the city maintains. We want to make sure as we go forward and Cainhoy begins to be built, that we provide wonderful park spaces for them as well.”
While growth is happening at a fast pace currently, as development reaches the Francis Marion National Forest, which forms the areas urban growth boundary, it will ultimately stop, explained Lindsey.
“We anticipate that regulated and high quality development will occur on the Cainhoy Peninsula, but it will stop, ultimately, at the Francis Marion, just as we have an urban growth boundary on John’s Island and West Ashley,” said Lindsey. “Yes, it is a place that is going to continue to grow and ultimately will have a green edge that will define the boundaries of our city.”
Currently, the city is working on plans for a new fire station that will serve the Cainhoy area, continued Lindsey. The fire station will also have police services co-located in the building.
“I think that the main thing is as Cainhoy begins these development processes, that we are working to make sure that we provide the best in public services, the best in public amenities and design regulation,” said Lindsey. “We want to make sure that it achieves a high quality built environment.”