On January 26, 2010, Dr. Paul Roberts and Al Burnaford of the Kiawah Island Roads Committee, with the support of Sam Reed from the Seabrook Island Roads Committee, and Joe Bunting, President of the Kiawah Island Community Association, gave a brief but thorough presentation of the potential Johns Island Greenway to the Property Owners Association of the Villages of St. Johns Woods.
After a brief presentation by Mayor Pro-Tem of Kiawah Island, Al Burnaford, Dr. Roberts clicked on a sideshow and began running through the major points of both traffic on the island, and the structure/influence of the Greenway.
“The reason we’re making this presentation is that we believe the solution through the middle of the island is the best solution to our current and future traffic problems,” said Dr. Roberts. “We think it’s important for people in other developments around the area to understand what’s happening to the roads, so that if you have an opinion, it will be based on the facts.”
Johns Island, said Roberts, embodies a unique set of values. It has churches, homes, village developments and a strong sense of community. “Whatever is done on the roads, it should recognize those values,” said Roberts. “Unfortunately, were at the point [on Johns Island] where growth will take over and go mad over the next few years – especially with Boeing and 526 coming in.”
Roberts ran through a list of repairs to the current roads which would help to improve traffic today, such as building an overpass at Highway 17 and Main Road, and putting in left turn lanes at various points along Main and Maybank. “But these don’t solve the longer term issues,” Roberts pointed out. “And safety is still a problem.”
Drawing on his formal education, which consists of a doctorate in transportation studies from North Western, and his career as a professor of transportation studies at MIT, Dr. Roberts described how the Johns Island Greenway would have far less of an impact on Johns Island than the widening of Main and Bohicket Roads – an alternative to the Greenway which is being studied by the LPA Group, a transportation company hired by Charleston County to evaluate the two potential solutions to Johns Island’s traffic problems.
In summary, according to Roberts, the widening of Bohicket and Main Roads would affect some 168 properties, 68 homes and 26 acres of wetland, while widening Bohicket and River Roads would impact some 363 properties and 77 homes. The Greenway, said Roberts, would only impact 1 house and crosses half as much wetland – much of which could potentially be avoided. In terms of affecting property, Roberts believes that much of the 10.6 mile long Greenway could be built along property lines and easements so as to avoid cutting through any properties.
“We think this [the Greenway] would divert traffic off of Maybank, Bohicket and River and handle half of the 60,000 trips/day coming onto Johns Island at the Stono gateway,” said Robert. “And Bohicket would carry half the traffic it currently does.”
The actual Greenway proposal consists of a 10.6 mile long, 300 foot wide, two lane road connecting River Road to Betsy Kerrison, with limited access occurring as the Greenway intersects Plowground and Edenvale. The entire length of the road, according to Roberts, will be placed in a conservation easement, further ensuring that no developments will be allowed to sprout up along its sides. Bikepaths and equestrian paths would be incorporated into the plan, with extra space allowed if the road would one day need to be widened to four lanes.
The Villages at St. Johns POA generally agreed with the Kiawah and Seabrook representatives, though several expressed that they did not believe that the I-526 extension would ever be built.
At the end of his presentation, Dr. Roberts thanked the POA and made a quick, final point: “We can wait until all the land down the center of the island is fully developed and there is no alternative to widening the existing roads, or we can act now by building a beautiful road down the middle of the island that is safe and preserves the character of Johns Island.”
For more information on the Johns Island Greenway, visit www.ccroadwise.org/sea_islands_greenway