The following is a summary of the public comments received as a result of the August 14, 2018 Public Meeting held at North Charleston City Hall, and subsequent public comment period (August 14 to August 31) for the I-26 Corridor Management Plan. While some respondents provided multiple comments, each individual comment has been reviewed. Within the that were repeated among several respondents. For brevity of the summary report, these ideas/concepts were aggregated in the following summary report of public comments, with the frequency of the comment noted.
Would Like to have a Bus or Light Rail Mass Transit System for Charleston (Frequency – 10):
As a component of the overall I-26 Corridor Management Plan, the integration of Mass Transit options included. This effort will consist of identifying elements along I-26 that could (BCDCOG) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Transit Framework Projects.
Improvements to the I-26 Entering and Exiting Movements at Interchanges (Frequency – 9):
All interchanges within the I-26 Corridor Management Plan study limits from Ridgeville Road (Exit 187) to US 17 (Exit 221) will be reviewed based on geometry, existing traffic operations, and anticipated future traffic operations based on expected growth in the area to identify opportunities for potential improvements. These improvements will range from short-term and medium-term elements such as elimination of merger points on ramps, ramp metering, exit ramp lane additions, lengthening acceleration and deceleration lanes, and multi-lane exits, to long-term concepts such as interchange redesign. These potential improvements will be evaluated to determine the most desirable options based on the anticipated financial public benefit as compared to the anticipated project cost.
Implementation of Managed Lanes—Both High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and High Occupancy Toll (HOT) (Frequency – 9):
As was outlined in the Public Meeting presentation, the use of managed lanes (HOV, or HOT, or Express Lanes) is one of the improvement strategies being evaluated. This evaluation will also require an understanding of the public’s acceptance to assimilate to a potential new focus on mobility of people versus freeway capacity for vehicles. This evaluation will be grounded in the same basis of comparison for all proposed improvements of the anticipated financial public benefit to the anticipated cost; however, this would be a long-term concept.
More Enforcement Needed – Lack of Enforcement Contributes to Crashes and Traffic Congestion (Frequency – 8):
Enforcement is a function of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) and all comments associated with these concerns will be forwarded to SCDPS for any action they deem appropriate. However, the evaluation of the I-26 corridor will include analysis of the crash history to identify any factors in the crashes that could be addressed through engineering, enforcement, education, and emergency response. Improvement measures will be proposed to reduce the frequency and severity of crashes in an effort to limit the impacts on those involved and to the traveling public.
Additional General Purpose Lanes (Frequency – 7):
The construction of additional general purpose lanes (non-managed lanes) is always a viable option for relieving traffic congestion. Within this study, the determination of viable improvement options will be performed in accordance with the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Congestion Management Process (CMP). This requires that all improvements are evaluated and compared based on anticipated performance using Travel Demand Strategies, Modal Strategies, Traffic Operations Strategies, and Capacity Improvements. This approach works to evaluate potential improvements on both the supply and demand sides of transportation planning.
More Emphasis on Driver Education/Behavior (Frequency – 6):
These comments were in reference to driver behaviors such as slower traffic in left lane, proper merging into traffic, and erratic lane changes. Although driver behavior issues are detected within crash history reviews, driver behavior will be a factor used to determine potential educational strategies. Typically, these strategies will involve multiple agencies coordinating to promote improvements to driver behavior through engineering, education, and enforcement measures.
Truck Restrictions in Terms of both Hours of Operation and Lanes (Frequency - 5)
Due to the presence of the ports, the truck traffic impacts to the overall traffic operations are significant. One focus of this study is to understand the benefits of intermodal split to rail, peak-hour incentives and disincentives, alternative truck routing, and truck parking issues. Once a better understanding of truck impacts to the corridor has been obtained, improvement strategies can be evaluated.
More Emphasis on Alternate Routes other than I-26/I-526 (Frequency - 5)
The overall transportation system must work as a network to provide the desired mobility. The I-26 and I-526 corridors are designed to serve as the highest level of traffic operation and when this function breaks down, the remainder of the network cannot sustain travel demand. This condition is amplified due to the limited east-west connectivity from North Charleston to downtown Charleston. There are ongoing efforts on the off-interstate routes through the various transportation programs; however, no other program is focusing on potential options for I-26. These options must be explored for the overall benefit of the transportation system.
Don't Add Toll Lanes (Frequency – 3):
As was outlined in the Public Meeting presentation, the use of managed lanes (HOV, or HOT, or Express Lanes) is one improvement strategy being evaluated. This evaluation will also require an understanding of the public’s acceptance to assimilate to a potential new focus on mobility of people versus freeway capacity for vehicles. This evaluation will be grounded in the same basis of comparison for all proposed improvements of the anticipated financial public benefit to the anticipated cost; however, this would be a long-term concept.
Use TDM Strategies (Frequency – 3):
As part of the overall study, strategies associated with Travel Demand Management (TDM) are being evaluated. Currently, the BCDCOG has a program (Lowcountry Go) underway promoting the use of TDM strategies within the region. You can find additional information on this program at http://lowcountrygo.com/. A focus point of the I-26 Corridor Management Plan will be to identify elements that will enhance the current TDM strategies.
Add Park and Rides (Frequency – 2):
In a similar approach to the TDM Strategies above, the BCDCOG is currently evaluating options for park and ride facilitates. A focus point of the I-26 Corridor Management Plan will be to identify elements that will enhance the current efforts on the development of park and rides and provide a transportation program that supports the use of these facilities.
Add an Inland Port (Frequency – 2):
The analysis and determination for development of an inland port would fall under the jurisdiction of South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA). The presence of ports in the area has a significant impact on the regional traffic demand as well as I-26. These impacts are captured within the traffic data collection, but we will further evaluate based on any future plans of the SCPA.
Fix Potholes (Frequency – 1):
As always, the on-going maintenance of any existing facility is critical to the long-term operational success. Therefore, the expedient repair of any roadway element is a priority. While SCDOT crews monitor the roadways for maintenance issues, the traveling public provides a great resource to help identify needs. Please utilize the following link to report any maintenance work needed: http://dbw.scdot.org/workrequest/.
Restrict development in the area until I-26 is fixed (Frequency – 1):
Land development and transportation are interrelated; however, the regulatory component for land development is a local government function. The Department will be utilizing the local government development input to determine future traffic projections, but SCDOT cannot regulate land development.
Add Ramp Meters (Frequency – 1):
Ramp metering is one of the Traffic Operation Strategies being evaluated as part of this project as a short- to intermediate-term measure. As there are no Ramp Meters currently operational in South Carolina, the effectiveness of this strategy will be based on best practices identified in the continental US.
Dedicated Lanes for Smaller Electric Vehicles (Frequency – 1):
While a specific strategy of dedicated lanes for specific vehicle classification is not a component of the study, there are provisions within the operational parameters of HOV, HOT, and Express Lanes to allow the Clean Air vehicles to utilize the facility.
Improve Incident Response/Clearance Time for Crashes (Frequency -1):
An overall safety evaluation is being performed and initial results are indicating up to 5 crashes per day along the corridor. While the primary approach is to address and reduce crashes, a component to review quick clearance options to incident management will be evaluated as well.
Several comments were received that were not directly related to the I-26 operations. These comments are duly noted and shared with the appropriate entities for any action they deem appropriate, but are not a component of the I-26 Corridor Management Plan. The comments were: