How the Low Line will reconnect Charleston
Ah, I-26. Some see it as the main artery of Charleston’s infrastructure, providing crucial connectivity between the tri-counties. Others see it as more of a pain in the you-know-what, drawing a line down the center of downtown, and in doing so, creating major division between its neighborhoods.
But that all could soon change – with the construction of the Lowcountry Low Line.
What: Over a mile + a half of railroad that’s no longer in use. The Low Line would convert the railroad into to a walkable, linear park. It would, in part, serve as a pedestrian bridge across the “fault line” forged by the construction of I-26. Think: NYC’s High Line… but ground-level. 🛤️
When: The project is very much in its infancy, so a completion date hasn’t been set yet— but the organization Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line did lay out a step-by-step plan for getting it all done. The city of Charleston checked a crucial part of step one off the list this past December when it purchased right-of-way for the tracks from Norfolk Southern.
How: The Friends of the Lowcountry Low Line will work with the surrounding communities, local + national philanthropic organizations, + the city to raise funds, design, + build the proposed park. While the price tag is still TBD, both state + federal grants will be sought out to assist in covering costs.
Impact on Charleston: Right now, the city isn’t making any money off of the land— but a study projects the Low Line could generate upwards of five billion dollars in total economic output (including $90 million in total additional tourism spending). Perhaps more importantly, by making the park accessible for cyclists + pedestrians alike, the Low Line would improve accessibility to the entire peninsula— potentially relieving traffic on the roads, + giving nearby businesses a boost. 🚴
Hear proponents of the Low Line discuss the way in which the project could transform Charleston’s neighborhoods in this video.
Living on the East Side, I often wish there were an easier way to get around the peninsula — especially one that allows me to avoid the challenge of dodging all the confused-looking tourists that dart in front of my car on King Street. I’m optimistic that the Low Line will be a major step in the right direction.
Until then, you can find me desperately driving in circles downtown, waiting for a parking space to open up near Queen Street Grocery.
What’s your opinion on the Low Line? Do you think it will achieve its goals of mitigating issues like gentrification + transportation? When would you like to see it open? Share your thoughts with us by replying to this email.
—Jen, Multimedia Producer