“We’ll be there as long as there are people wanting to speak,” said David Kinard, Project Manager for the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
In response to concern that island residents might not be able to make the public hearings scheduled for the Mark Clark Expressway Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) at Burke High School in downtown Charleston, three additional meetings have been scheduled around the islands. Taking place on Tuesday, September 7, at West Ashley High School; Wednesday, September 8, at James Island Charter High School; and Thursday, September 9, at St. Johns High School, each meeting will begin with a one-hour open house starting at 5 p.m. and move into a formal presentation and public comment hearing at 6 p.m. Those wishing to speak at these meetings are encouraged to sign up before 6 p.m. and will be given two to three minutes to speak and provide comments.
“This is a really good opportunity for the public to talk with private team members and get answers,” said Kinard. “We want to make sure that we hear everyone’s concerns and will be responding to written comments.”
Comments, said Kinard, are just now starting to pour in and they seem to be coming from all over the spectrum. “There’s no one generealized point of view,” said Kinard. “Some say they love the new alternative and others say they don’t want anything at all. Still others are asking why we didn’t stay with the original plan.”
The design team, said Kinard, is looking for specific concerns and issues so that they can be addressed specifically. Since the design of the I-526 extension is still in its conceptual stages, it can be adjusted, tweaked or moved to reduce impact and every comment is helpful.
Copies of the DEIS are available for public review at four Charleston County Public library branches including Main, Johns Island, James Island, and West Ashley. Comments on the DEIS and Recommended Preferred Alternative can be also be made by clicking “Contact Us” on the project website (www.scdot.org/i526), on the project hotline 1-888-MCE-I526, or by mail to SCDOT at PO Box 191, Columbia, SC 29202-0191. The two-month public comment period on the DEIS and Recommended Preferred Alternative ends on September 30, 2010.