Jun 21 2022

Kiawah Island Corridor Study ‘Critically Important’ Priority

By Theresa Stratford for The Island Connection

Kiawah Island Parkway Intersection and Corridor Study
(Photo by Kimley Horn)

As development increases on Kiawah Island, so does the traffic, which is why road improvements are a priority for the Town of Kiawah Island. Dillon Turner of Kimley Horn, the consultant working with the Town on recommendations for the potential impacts on the Kiawah Island Parkway, presented a final report of long-term and short-term findings at the Town Council meeting on June 7. Turner presented a preliminary assessment in March of proposed recommendations based on the study the Kimley Horn team conducted in the late summer and early fall of 2021. They considered future development on and off the island with assumptions made to determine significant impacts on the Kiawah Island Parkway as a whole.

Turner said, “I walked the corridor. I observed the intersections, what people are doing, speeds, etc.” Turner met with the Town for further data and studied any vacant land around the town and what could go on in the long term. 

According to the study, existing conditions for the study were set in 2021, short-term is 2026 conditions and long-term is 2036 conditions. The short-term conditions included known upcoming developments in or near the Town of Kiawah Island that can increase traffic volume on Town’s roads.

The long term conditions included vacant parcels of land that are not currently slated for development but could be developed in the future.

 The recommendations are as follows:

 Short-Term:

 1. Kiawah Island Parkway at Beachwalker Drive: To mitigate the anticipated long delays at this intersection, a modification to the westbound approach is recommended. With this improvement the removal of the bike path from Oyster Rake Drive also is recommended. With this improvement, the westbound through lane will operate as free-flow and the and the westbound left-turn lane be channelized. Furthermore, an eastbound right-turn lane will be constructed. These improvements significantly decrease the delays at the intersection. 

2. Kiawah Island Parkway at the Real Estate Office: The Kiawah Island Parkway at Beachwalker Drive improvement project, would cause this intersection to become right-in/right-out. A connection will be required from Beachwalker Drive to the Real Estate Office for the restricted westbound and northbound left turn movements from Kiawah Island Parkway at the Real Estate Office. Once the Real Estate Office becomes right-in/right-out, the northbound approach delays are anticipated to be less than existing conditions. 

3. Kiawah Island Parkway at Andell West Development/Lot B: A roundabout and traffic signal were analyzed at this intersection. A traffic signal serves the long-term development conditions better than a roundabout. The traffic signal forces gaps for the side-street movements and allows for left-turn phasing. The roundabout would operate well for the short-term conditions but is anticipated to fail in the long-term conditions. Therefore, a traffic signal is recommended over the roundabout at this intersection. The traffic signal can be more adaptable to future growth than the roundabout and would require less right-of-way than the roundabout. 

4. Kiawah Island Parkway at Freshfields Drive: To mitigate long side-street delays on Freshfields Drive, it is recommended that the proposed Andell West Development interconnect to the Freshfields Development and this access will become right-in/ right-out. The left-turns entering and exiting Freshfields Drive can be diverted to Village Green Lane, the Andell West access on Kiawah Island Parkway, or the future Lot C access on Seabrook Island Road. With these improvements in place, the northbound approach delay is anticipated to significantly decrease. 

Long-Term: 

1. Kiawah Island Parkway/Seabrook Island Road at Betsy Kerrison Parkway/Village Green Lane: To mitigate long delays on Seabrook Island Road, a turbo roundabout is recommended. The turbo roundabout would allow for an eastbound left-turn and an eastbound through-right lane. In addition to the turbo roundabout at this intersection, consideration should be given to connecting the multi-use path from its terminus on Betsy Kerrison Parkway, across Haulover Creek, and into Freshfields. This would require a pedestrian bridge across Haulover Creek.

 2. Kiawah Island Parkway at Old Cedar Lane: To mitigate long delays on Old Cedar Lane, it is recommended to construct an exclusive eastbound right-turn lane on Old Cedar Lane. The eastbound right-turn lane is to help reduce the side street delays and queues. With this improvement in place, the eastbound approach is anticipated to continue to fail, but the queue lengths are anticipated to significantly decrease. It is not atypical for side streets to fail during peak hour conditions. 

3. Betsy Kerrison Parkway at Camp Care Road/Lot A: Due to the high through volume and speeds on this section of Betsy Kerrison Parkway, left- and right-turn lanes should be considered for the Lot A development. Even with these turn lanes, the westbound approach is anticipated to fail during the evening peak hour. However, the projected volumes for the development intensity assumed for Lot A are not high enough to warrant a traffic signal per the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices guidelines. If Lot A does develop, a formal traffic study should be performed. 

4. Seabrook Island Road at Andell Bluff Boulevard/Lot C: When the northbound driveway connection was considered for Lot C, the southbound approach was anticipated to fail during the morning peak hour and the northbound and southbound approaches were anticipated to fail during the evening peak hour. To mitigate the delay on the side street Kiawah Island Parkway Intersection and Corridor Study approaches, a roundabout was considered. A single-lane roundabout is anticipated to significantly improve operations at this intersection.

 Please note, Seabrook Island is currently considering a roundabout at this location, therefore it is listed as a low priority for the Town of Kiawah Island. Town Council asked many questions during the study like if the Town will see immediate improvements from some of the short-term concepts that are underway and what the status was from the Kiawah Island Community Association about moving the gate access. They asked about approving a stoplight, but were told that the ARB would have to be involved when it came to the aesthetics. Also, the traffic light would have to go under further study once the developments were in place to make sure they were warranted, according to Turner. Interconnectivity was also expressed as highly important. The study, which is available on the Town’s website is close to 400-pages long and includes figures demonstrating the recommendations. 

Mayor John Labriola thanked Turner and Kiawah Island Planning Director John Taylor for their work in this “critically important study.” 

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