An online survey is available through Aug. 17 here (https://surveymonkey.com/r/mtptransit).? Paper copies of the survey are available at Mount Pleasant Town Hall. A public open house will be held Tuesday, Aug. 7 from 3 – 7 p.m. in the Town Hall foyer to share findings and gather input on what future transit service should look like in Mount Pleasant.
“It’s very important to us that we offer service where there is demand and need,” said BCDCOG Executive Director Ron Mitchum. “Our goal is to put the right service in the right area at the right time, and one way to ensure we achieve that is to speak directly with riders and would-be riders.”
Those who would like to stay updated on the study or have specific questions are asked to email BCDCOG principal planner Sharon Hollis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Recent CARTA outreach has included discussions regarding service with officials of Folly Beach and Isle of Palms, as well as residents of Daniel Island.
“Lowcountry residents have realized that public transit and other transportation alternatives are going to have to be in the mix if we’re going to avoid long-term gridlock,” Mitchum said.
The BCDCOG is a voluntary association of, by and for local governments, and was established to assist Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester county leaders in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit, and coordinating for sound regional development. BCDCOG’s purpose is to strengthen the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication, and make joint decisions. For the latest on BCDCOG, visit www.bcdcog.com, like us on Facebook or follow on Twitter at @BDCCoG
Even paradise has cracks and pitfalls.? There is no such thing as the perfect place.? We all want to believe that.? We are Charleston of course; an Instagrammer, Foodie Blogger, wedding and fashion haven.? Keep in mind, all that has a nice marketing spin of money and beautiful people.? Peel a layer back on this onion and you may begin to cry.
There are a number of concerns masked behind this elegant ballroom dance.? Many adversely affect us every day.
Let us examine 7 defining areas of concern that put the Charleston lifestyle in jeopardy
Education Funding – $6.6 Million of a $480 Million dollar budget was set aside for education spending in Charleston County in the 2017 budget (1.4%).? Given the higher than national average growth of 45 – 55 new residents daily, overcrowding of classrooms, under funding of teacher salaries and even cookie cutter trailers being built for extra classroom space, this is a situation that seems to be getting worse and needs immediate attention and funding.
Charleston voted the worst city to start a small business – The Charleston, South Carolina, metropolitan area comes in as the number one least-favorable place to start a small business for a number of reasons. In the first place, office rents are a sky-high $23.60 per square foot, well above the national average of $17.15 per square foot. Second, housing costs are above the national average for both renters (median monthly rent is $975 versus $803 nationally) and owners ($1,367 versus $1,217). Third, public transit is infrequent and underutilized, with only 1 percent of Charleston area commuters using public transportation. And finally, the area business ownership rate is below average, in the 8th percentile, with a very low percentage of startups (0.89 percent), and a below average five-year survival rate of 48.32 percent.
Talent Supply Issues – Charleston was just ranked #4 for best place to start a career for entry level graduates.? Yet, as a footnote to that study, we were ranked #1 in the nation for most job openings per 100,000 residents.? That is a potential economic disaster for this community if we begin to become less reliant on hospitality and tourism and begin to grow our business presence.? We need to address the requirement of more skilled labor and how we will identify them both locally and nationally.
Taxation – Charleston County has the highest taxation of any county in South Carolina at 9% (6% State and 3% Local) and one of the highest in the country.? Let us add on top, the burden locals face dining out.? Restaurant food tax is 10.5% and restaurant alcohol tax is as high as 16.5%.? These taxation rates may not put a strain on a tourist that is here for 4 days, but for the local community living here all year, it weighs heavy.
Gun Violence – In 2014, South Carolina had the 10th worst firearm mortality rate in the United States with 15.5 deaths per population of 100,000.? In 2011, South Carolina was ranked 15th in raw firearm deaths with 223 of the 8583 in the United States.? 70% of all murders in the state that year were a result of a firearm.? In 2014, 764 deaths in the state were by the use of a firearm.? In a July, 2017 article, the Post & Courier indicated, “On an average week between 1999 and 2014, a dozen?people were fatally shot in South Carolina. Nearly 10,000 lives were lost to homicides, suicides and accidents involving guns.? Then, in 2015, 16 died every week — 841 by the year’s end —?the highest toll of gun deaths for the Palmetto State since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started tracking it.”
The top 10 worst states? in firearm death rate in 2014 were:
Tourism First / Locals Second – The annual occupancy rate of hotels in Charleston/North Charleston in 2017 was 75.5%.? If you focus just on downtown Charleston, that number is over 92%.? To compare, Myrtle Beach sat at 53.3%.? The number do not lie, tourism is a critical part of our economic success, but at what cost?? Many say, the barrage of cranes and construction vehicles corrupting our town, rising costs, raised rents, local businesses closing and overall worsening conditions for locals is a reason to be alarmed and many have voiced these concerns.? Who is acting on behalf of the local residents?? Look at a few examples:? The meters in downtown Charleston increased by 100% and the hours of operation were raised from 6 PM to 10 PM.? On Folly Beach, it is now $10 to walk the streets for their festivals, when for so many year it was free.? These are just a few case studies of changes that putting a pinch on local residents.
Highway Infrastructure – The Brooklyn Bridge just celebrated its 135th birthday and still stands as strong and safe as ever.? With the Wando Bridge fiasco, the bridge slip of Dan Holt a few months ago and ice shutting down the Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge, it is evident we have a real reason to be concerned about our highway system.? We compliment the amazing efforts of CARTA to change cultural thinking about mass transit and assist in this growing issue, but that isn’t enough.
When will be begin to not only look at these areas, but take real steps to improve conditions?
It seems everywhere you look these days there are blogs popping up about what to do in Charleston. Having information about what to do and where to go is great, but sometimes it is good to know what not to do. Fear not! We have you covered. So enjoy your time in Charleston, but please keep in mind the following things not to do in Charleston, South Carolina:
– Do not stop in the middle of the road to take pictures of the big, beautiful houses. Again, that goes for cars and pedestrians, although we see it happen mostly with cars. Simply pull over and park, get out and walk around. You will get much better photographs and see so much more!
– Do not block the sidewalks. We all have places to go and people to see. While this is the south and time does seem to run a little slower here, we are still in a rush to get to where we need to be. Please be considerate of those behind you when walking down the sidewalk and make sure they have plenty of room to get around you.
– Do not let the door slam on the person walking in behind you. We are taught at a very early age to “hold the door” for others, especially southern gentlemen. When you don’t, it is nothing personal, but we take it as such. And it’s simply rude.
– Do not stop in the middle of the intersection. This goes for cars and pedestrians. The light stays green for only so long, and trust me it’s not very long. If you are unsure of where you are going, just get out of the way and then figure it out.
– Do not eat at Hymans. With so many other amazing options, try not to fall prey to the hype. But you definitely don’t have to take our word for it.
– Do not walk in the bike lane when walking across the Ravenel Bridge. The bikers will warn you that they are coming up behind you, but they will also come pretty dern close to running you over if you are in their lane.
– Do not pay for a taxi when getting around downtown. You have a couple of free options. The city has the DASH, a free downtown shuttle that has different routes that will get you all over the peninsula. There is also Scoop Charleston, a free electric taxi service that will get you anywhere you want to go in downtown Charleston.? The Rickshaw is just a fine Southern tradition and cozy way to get around town.
– Do not get to the bar late if you do not want to pay a cover charge. Going out at night? Try upper King Street or hit up the Market and East Bay area. However, be warned that there will be lines and cover charges.
– Do not bring alcohol on the beach. Folly Beach was the last beach in the area that allowed drinking on the beach. They banned alcohol on their beach in 2012 following a last straw Fourth of July incident. Some say just be smart about it; we say why risk it?
– Do not forget that everyone has their bad days. Sure, Charleston has been named one of the friendliest cities but whether you are a local or a tourist, things like what are listed above can -and will- bug anyone from time to time. Just be patient, smile, and remember the golden rule for in the end we all want our Charleston experience to be a great one.
This afternoon, there was an accident on Highway 26 westbound near Aviation causing a backup nearly to downtown Charleston.? While on Highway 526 near Highway 17, the westbound traffic was blocked off due to another accident causing a 1 hour plus delay.? On River Road on John’s Island, a semi-truck jackknifed off the road blocking off traffic on both sides.? On the crosstown due to construction and a car stalled on the entrance to the crosstown off 26 Eastbound, there was a stop and go back up.
This was today.? This could be any day.
On a typical day, we experience traffic patterns causing extreme pain points throughout our home roadways.
The James Island connector can be backed up five or more lights during afternoon rush hour from downtown.
Folly Road is constant traffic in both directions throughout the day.
Savannah Highway, Bees Ferry, Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant, Harborview Road on James Island, Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant, Route 61 in West Ashley, Ashley Phosphate and Dorchester in North Charleston all suffer tenaciously difficult traffic issues.
Rivers Avenue is an adventure and not one for the weak
Cooper River Bridge leaving downtown Charleston during rush hour can be a parking lot
Who is suffering from this traffic mayhem that seem to not have a simple answer?
The South Carolina drivers wallets and pocketbooks – It was announced this week that South Carolina is raising the gas tax in increments over several periods to support a new state highway funding bill. Beginning July 1, the gas tax will go up 2 cents up to a total of 12 cents a gallon.
Vehicle owners in the Lowcountry – We can isolate a location like the Westside, Spring Street, Cannon Street and so on, but for locals, the wear and tear on our vehicles is punishing due to cracks, potholes and construction. A few months ago, the Post and Courier ran an article indicating that the average area car owner spends nearly $1800 annually in car repairs due to poor roadways and flooding.
Local business owners – In the past, the Lowcountry has had issues with isolationism.? Folks from James Island didn’t go to Mount Pleasant.? Downtown residents didn’t go to West Ashley and so forth.? In the last five years, that sentiment has grown stronger.? A 10-mile journey can run you 40 minutes or more and that is forcing many to stay truly local.? For small business owners who are fortunate to expand, they are opening multiple site locations throughout the Lowcountry, but for those that do not have the finances to expand, they are being pinched because they cannot get people from other communities to come and shop.? This is forcing many to shut down or look to e-commerce to grow their business.
Law Enforcement– Charleston and Berkeley counties have amazing and dedicated men and women that work tirelessly to preserve our safety. With increases in accidents and more able bodies needed to support their efforts, state and local law enforcement are being taken away being visible in their communities.
Entire infrastructure of Charleston – Most of historic Charleston, SC is below sea level and we are surrounded in most directions by water and marsh. That is okay for walkers, and horse drawn carriages in our quaint historic town.? Even from a strategic standpoint, this area was blessed during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars because it made it very difficult for enemies to penetrate land and easy to defend.? Unfortunately, this area is not built for 45 new residents a day and 4.2 million tourists annually.? You don’t need a Master’s Degree in Urban Development to see that.
Traffic truly is a sore subject here at home.? Some don’t even venture out between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM or 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM on weekdays or try to leave for the beaches after 11:00 AM on weekends.? The results are “slow”.
The biggest fear, isn’t the inconvenience, increased gas prices or cost of vehicle maintenance, but that the future of the natural resources, the stability of the roadways and the safety of our citizens are in jeopardy.
For those on the path of Folly Road (You know who you are fellow James Islanders, Folly Beach residents, West Ashley and peninsula dwellers), the idea of Folly Road during beach season is a thought we try very hard to avoid.? At times, the road more closely resembles a parking lot than a roadway.? Yet, in the last three years a transition has occurred and one that has shaken up the locals.
With the increased housing development of James Island and John’s Island, traffic has gone from seasonal to all year long.? Here is what has been happening because of the increased traffic pressure:
The light at the corner of the James Island Connector and Folly Road can back cars up as much as seven plus lights on the connector during peak beach season and daily rush hour.? This is causing some drivers to make a right onto Folly and doing an illegal U-Turn in the middle of the road.
The light at Folly Road and Ellis is causing a three or four light backup to turn left due to Lowe’s, IHOP, Wells Fargo and the Peninsula Condominiums.? Some are turning right into Harris Teeter and then pulling an illegal U-Turn to take the light across Folly Road.
The construction on the approval circle at the intersection of Camp and Folly is causing nightly delays.
The increased traffic is hurting the roadway infrastructure resulting in more untreated potholes.
Traffic on parallel road, Riverland Avenue is seeing increased pressure and volume.
Businesses are suffering due to the increased challenges of making turns on Folly Road.
Within 3 miles, there are 10 bars and 6 restaurants with full liquor licenses.? This easy accessibility to alcohol coupled with careless driving to avoid parking lot type conditions has increased the number of Folly Road related accidents.? Without the budget to increase the police presence, this trend may continue.
Now, we need to look at future state.? We estimate that there will be 4.5 to 4.9 million tourists in Charleston in 2016.? Hotel development is at an unstoppable period of expansion.? That is a fact.
Now let us think like a tourist.? When we look for hotels, we look at mile proximity to our destination.? Folly Road on James Island sits at 3 – 10 miles from downtown Charleston and 0 – 10 miles from Folly Beach.
When does the hotel development begin?? It is a realistic future state that we cannot ignore.? Is the new Camp and Folly round about (circle) a way to alleviate the traffic issues, or a preliminary requirement to pave the way for hotel development?? We are not here to speculate or assume anything.? This is a trend that has been developing for several years and thus we cannot ignore a probability of future hospitality on Folly Road.
How do we work to rectify this Folly Road conundrum?
Improve the timing of the lights to provide more time for turn lanes.
Improve the bike lane situation to give more safe options for alternative transportation.
Ensure hotel development is held back.
Minimize new housing development moving forward
Closer monitoring of key spots on Folly Road to deter illegal driving behavior.
Will this solve everything?? Most likely not, but these few necessary steps can ensure the safety of our citizens and provide a better quality of life on Folly Road and surrounding areas.
Media Release: TRAFFIC SIGNAL IMPROVEMENTS UNDERWAY AT
JOHNS ISLAND INTERSECTION
John J. Tecklenburg
Office of Communications
On Monday, July 25, the City of Charleston Department of Traffic and Transportation began manually operating the traffic signal at Maybank Highway and River Road during peak weekday traffic (7-9 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m.) for a two-week test period.
The manual operation of the signal is to review and test timing settings to allow better flow through the intersection. The data collected during this test will lead to a re-timing of the light, which the city will do prior to completion of the citywide traffic signal retiming project.
Mayor John Tecklenburg said, “We are manually operating the traffic signal to collect data to find ways to address residents’ concerns of traffic congestion and backup on Johns Island. The signal operator is monitoring the traffic and adjusting the timing of the signal accordingly. We will use the data that we collect to retime the light and to make recommendations to Charleston County and SCDOT for intersection improvements.”
“I’ve heard from my constituents on a daily basis about the Maybank Highway and River Road intersection during rush hour,” said Charleston County Councilmember Joseph Qualey. “Traffic solutions are often difficult and costly and I’m thankful the City Charleston is taking these steps to improve the quality of life for citizens in an inexpensive and immediate fashion.”
Additionally, earlier this month, City Council approved a Municipal Agreement between the City, Charleston County and South Carolina Department of Transportation for Maybank Highway Improvements. The County project will add an additional lane of traffic on Maybank Highway and improve the intersection of Maybank Highway and River Road.
“With almost 50 people a day moving to the Charleston area, we need to take an ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ approach to traffic relief,” Tecklenburg said in conclusion. “And this project is a good example of that — a quick, low-cost improvement at one intersection that can make a small but hopefully meaningful difference in rush hour traffic, and in our citizens’ quality of life.”
Jack O’Toole, Director of Communications
Media Relations/Public Information
Driving and traffic have become a hot bed of water cooler conversation in the last several years in the Charleston area due to the unorthodox population growth we have been experiencing.? Depending on whom you ask, we are going between 40 and 100 new residents a day into Charleston County and beyond.? Needless to say, with any growth, there are “growing pains” and one of them is increased traffic and a challenging infrastructure that needs to find solutions to our our road layout and the increasing number of vehicles.
There are ways, as drivers we can help provide a safer, environmentally sound and more courteous experience on the roadways.
We would like to provide a few reminders of some of the proper and improper behaviors.
Charleston area driver lessons and recommendations:
Don’t throw cigarette butts out your window – Please do not discard your cigarette butts out of your window.? This is our home.? You may think one or two or three a day does not make a difference, especially when they are tossed from different parts of town or on the highways, but let us put that in perspective for a moment.? What if 10,000 people threw out two a day.? That is 20,000 cigarettes littering our roads, sideways, marshland, rivers and the list goes on.? Even one is bad for the environment.
Stop signs are not optional – Often times, we see stop signs that seem inappropriate or there is rarely a need to stop because there isn’t traffic coming from the other direction or often at all.? That does not give a driver the option to roll through.? You may miss a pedestrian or unexpected vehicle and cause more harm than good.? Please respect the law of the stop sign and come to a complete stop.
Blinkers helps other drivers understand your actions on the roadway – Unfortunately, our population does not use blinkers often enough.? On the Crosstown or the Cooper River Bridge, where cars are moving quickly from lane to lane as the road curves, there are many hazards that can potentially be avoided if blinkers are used.? Blinkers provide drivers behind you an expectation of your next move and allow them to plan ahead to avoid any likely accidents.
Yield to pedestrians signs are law, not optional – If you are in a high pedestrian area and you see a yield to pedestrian sign, it is required law that you stop as a driver.? Most wait to see if a pedestrian makes a first move, then they slow down.? They should not have to take the risk and hope you stop.? If you see a pedestrian crossing sign and people at the corner, slow down and let them know you will stop for them so they are comfortable to cross the road.
The speed limit is in fact a limit – Often times I will find myself on the James Island Connector or the Cooper River Bridge being doing 5 miles an hour over the speed limit on cruise control and having every single car pass me with some exceeding the speed limit by 15 – 20 miles an hour.? Unfortunately, we do not have the law enforcement capacity to stop everyone that puts other drivers in harms way with their excessive speeding and drivers know that.? Use a little common road courtesy and not drive others off the road.
Texting at stop lights is bad – We all know it is against the law to text and drive.? We are reminded constantly on the radio and billboards.? For some, their lives are so important they have to text at every stop sign.? Here is the issue.? With increased traffic, every second counts at a stop light or turn signal light.? When you are at the head of the line and the light turns green to turn and you are finishing a text, 4 – 5 seconds go by before you react and that causes two cars to miss the turn and cause a further back up.? Wait until you reach your destination please.
There you have it.? Six little reminders to promote a safe, courteous and environmentally sound driving experience here in the Charleston area.
Getting around downtown Charleston, let’s face it, can have the tendency to take some of the charm out of your visit, whether you are just running a quick errand, having a night out on the town, or visiting for the first time. One of our goals here at Charleston Daily is to make your Charleston experiences as pleasant as possible, so we have put together a few getting around downtown tips and tricks that will hopefully make your next trip to the Peninsula stress free.
Let’s start off with what everyone gets aggravated with the most, regardless of whether or not you are a tourist or you have lived here for 20 years – parking.
?Time limit: Most have a two hour time limit, some are only one hour. If they are painted red, they are only 15 minutes. Most meters run from 9am – 6pm, but vary based on where they are located in the city (some start at 8am). Check the back if you are unsure.
Tip: Put a nickel or dime in first to make sure they are working! This way you don’t waste a quarter if it’s broken. Legally you are only supposed to stay for maximum allotted time for that meter, but hey it’s free. To report a broken meter call 843-724-7375?or take a quick moment and go online to the Citizen Support Center.
?No change? No problem! The City of Charleston sells a SmartCard that works in all of the meters downtown. It is a prepaid card that can be bought and reloaded at the Visitor Center or at the City of Charleston Department of Revenue Collections – Parking Division on Lockwood Drive. One of the other perks of using this card is that you can refund the amount not used at the meter back onto the card at the end of your stay. The card costs a one time fee of $5. Cards are rechargeable and can hold up to $300 in value.
?Motorcycles and mopeds: You must adhere to the same parking rules as cars do, including in the garages! (The garage attendants will call parking enforcement on you.) You can double park at the meters. Up to 6 motorcycles or mopeds are allowed to occupy one meter space, as long as each vehicle stays within that space. Should your time expire before you return, each vehicle parked there will be subject to a ticket. However, where you get lucky is in the residential areas. There’s not really any place to put that residential sticker now is there? Hmm…
Pay and Display Parking Stations ?For these, you go to the kiosk, input how long you will be there and it prints out a ticket for you to display on your dashboard. The only?one we know of being in the Garden Theater lot near King Street and Burns Lane (366 King Street). This one is 24 hours. You can also find these kiosks at the Washout on Folly. The nice thing about these stations is that they take debit or credit cards, as well as cash. They do not accept the SmartCard.?
?These can get pricey pretty quickly, but sometimes a garage is your only option.?You can park in the Visitor Center garage, with the entrance on Meeting Street, any time after 5pm for a flat rate of $4.00 as long as you leave by 8am the following day. For garage and other lot?rates click here.
In need of an EV charging station? The following garages have them:
?Queen Street Garage
?Visitor Center Garage
Flat Rate Lots
?There are flat rate lots where you pay anywhere from $8 and up to park for the day. These rates vary depending on where they are in the city and what time of day it is as well. Now they have flat rate lots where you can pay for a short period of time, perfect for going out to dinner.
?Most residential areas are 1 or 2 hours parking, but can go up to 4 hours. It all depends on what the sign says. Tip: Residential areas are all different…read the signs closely! Please be courteous when you are parking in residential areas. Just use some common sense. Would you want someone blocking your driveway, even if it was only for a few minutes
Free Parking (YAY!)
?There are handicap spaces on the streets scattered about; these spaces are free if you have a valid handicap license plate or tag.
?Upper King Street parking: Many businesses are now validating parking on Upper King Street. It never hurts to ask!
?Battery parking: Parking along the water side only at the Battery is free…if you are lucky enough to find a spot.
?Keep an eye out for the city’s annual free holiday parking vouchers. Historically these are issued at the end of November and run through December. Most of the parking garages participate in spreading this bit of holiday cheer.
?The best thing the city does for parking – meters are free on Sundays and official city holidays.
I’m Parked, What Now? You have a few options of getting around the city.
?Walk around! (My personal favorite!) Charleston is so beautiful and you will stumble upon so much just from walking and checking things out. I know walking isn’t for everybody, especially in our steamy Charleston summers. There are still options.
?Charleston Rickshaw Company or Charleston Pedicab: Either company?will be happy to bike you wherever you need to go. Both companies are only $5.50 per person for every 10 minutes. They are super personable and knowledgeable about the city. ?DASH: This is?the Trolley Loop by CARTA runs through the Peninsula. It is a free service and stops at some of the major spots around the city.
?Scoop Charleston: This is one of our newest additions and?are Charleston’s only fully electric transportation service. Not only are they great for the environment, they are great for the budget too, because they are absolutely free! (Just please be courteous and tip your driver!)
?Charleston Water Taxi: For only $10 you can go between the heart of downtown and Mt. Pleasant. That $10 gets you an all day pass on the Water Taxi that does a loop between?Patriots Point, Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, Waterfront Park, and the Aquarium Wharf. During peak season, it runs between 9am and 8pm daily. Off peak you can still catch it on Saturdays.
?Uber and other various taxi services: These will travel off of the Peninsula and run later than Scoop does.
So now that you are armed with this parking and transport knowledge, your next trip to downtown Charleston should be a breeze! Be sure to take advantage of every service our city offers. It’s here for you!
May your days be sunny, may the red lights always be green and may the parking gods smile down on you!