Each day, Lowcountry residents participate in what Jen once referred to as “our version of the Great Wildebeest Migration” – a.k.a. the daily I-26 commute.
With an influx of residents in the Lowcountry, more + more people are hitting the roads – making the commute from Summerville to downtown long, slow, and sometimes dangerous.
Enter: The Lowcountry Rapid Transit (LCRT) – a proposed 26-mile bus rapid transit system that will connect Summerville, North Charleston, + downtown along US 78/US 52 (Rivers Ave.). It will be South Carolina’s first mass transit project designed to help ease the commute in one of the most congested corridors in the state. Its goal – to get you from Summerville to downtown in one hour.
But, it’s not just a new bus system. The LCRT project has also aims to improve connectivity for everyone, including drivers, pedestrians, + bicycles by addressing statistically dangerous intersections, lack of sidewalks, and limited crosswalks down Rivers Ave.
Last month, the Lowcountry Rapid Transit (LCRT) hosted two open house meetings along the proposed bus rapid transit route – and since I live right in the heart of the corridors in North Charleston, I attended the meeting at the Northwoods Mall on June 20 – where I learned more about the project + how it could help improve transportation for people (like me) who are using that stretch of road daily.
How will it work?
The proposed system will boast 16 buses, transporting through 18 stations along the corridor. The stations have been strategically placed near employment hubs, schools, tourist hotspots, hospitals, + other community resources. Additionally, there will be dedicated lanes within the corridor route for rapid transit – providing faster and safer transportation.
So it’s just a bus system?
Not at all. The LCRT system will use “advanced signal technology” which will change the traffic lights for the buses and keep things flowing. It will be built with an environmentally conscious system, reducing emissions. And it’s not just better for the bus-riders. The LCRT project will also incorporate safer transportation for bikers, develop sidewalks, build safe pedestrian crosswalks, and update dangerous intersections that have u-turn + scissor intersection conflicts.
The design architecture of the system will embody Lowcountry characteristics, highlighting the area’s nature, culture, + lifestyles (themes based on community input).
- The accident rate on Rivers Ave. per mile exceeds state averages by 200% (Nope, that’s not a typo).
- Between 2015-2018, 1,879 accidents have caused injuries, with 32 of them being fatal.
- Causes of accidents include un-signalized median crossovers, median u-turn acceleration/merge lanes, lack of sidewalks, and infrequent crosswalks.
- Less than half the corridor has sidewalks.
- There are only 11 signalized crosswalks on Rivers Ave. – and, in one section, there isn’t a crosswalk for five miles.
How much will this cost and who’s paying for it?
A study determined that the estimated cost would be $360 million and in 2016, Charleston County voters passed a ½ cent sales tax to fund transportation projects. Part of those funds will be used to apply for matching federal grants. Once it’s up and running, the estimated annual operating cost is $5.9 million.
What are the next steps?
Starting this year, a two-year federally mandated environmental review of the entire proposed alignment will be conducted. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2023, with an expected opening in 2025.
How can residents get involved?
Now through July 25, you can join an online version of the open house meetings by clicking here. You can submit any comments on the project by submitting a form at the end of the online meeting or by emailing email@example.com.