Letter to the Editor - May 24, 2018
LET'S MAKE LEMONADE
It has been a stressful and frustrating time for thousands of commuters impacted by the Wando River Bridge closure, and the light at the end of the tunnel is further away than we’d all like.
Everyone in the region understands the pain. Even without a bridge closed, drivers on Dorchester Road, Maybank Highway, Ashley River Road, Savannah Highway, Clements Ferry Road, I-26 and many other primary routes deal with congestion every day. Lengthy backups impact our quality of life and our economic competitiveness.
The ray of hope for everyone sitting in traffic is that investment in maintenance, new roads and transit projects is on the way.
Voters in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester Counties have all approved local option measures that have already contributed nearly $750 million and completed dozens of local infrastructure projects.
Thanks to leadership from our state delegation, we’re on the way to reversing the trend of decades of under-investment by the state in transportation infrastructure. The Roads Bill that passed last year with overwhelming support from the business community was a mammoth step forward.
Of course, there is no magic wand and the new funding will take time to generate traffic relief. In the short run, the best way to make lemonade out of this bag full of bitter fruit is to focus on things in our direct control.
Eighty-one percent of workers in the Charleston region drive alone in their car every day. Let’s seize the opportunity to change that stat, at least for these next few weeks. Here are a few suggestions that could make everyone’s commute a little better:
SHARE A RIDE TO WORK
Find a colleague who lives close or a neighbor whose office is nearby and ride together for the next four weeks. There will be one fewer car on the road, and you’ll have someone to commiserate with during the traffic jams.
INSTITUTE FLEX HOURS
Weigh the impact on your operations of allowing as many team members as possible to arrive and depart early or late. Nearly 40 percent of regional commuters leave their home between 7:00 and 8:30 a.m. The more people who begin their commute outside that 90-minute window, the better.
WORK FROM HOME
It’s not possible for every company or right for every person, but you can probably identify positions that can be equally effective working at home. Work from home doesn’t have to be Monday through Friday, even half days at home or cutting out the commute two days each week could have a powerful impact on traffic.
While your preference may still be for face-to-face, push yourself to try using more teleservices for the next few weeks. Skype or Facetime your next meeting.
Not all these solutions work for all businesses or all workers, but thoughtful use will help in this moment of acute pain and could make things better for our community every day.
Bryan S. Derreberry, President and CEO Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce