A new report lays out several proposals for how to improve Charleston’s transportation infrastructure to accommodate the city’s booming growth and the increasing issues related to downtown congestion.
A few months after he presented a few early ideas to a standing-room crowd at the Charleston Museum, the report compiled by former D.C. and Chicago transportation planner Gabe Klein was published by the city last week. Some of the ideas in the 33-page report are familiar hypotheticals, but some others present a new take. (Full report embedded below.)
Klein isn't the only national figure Charleston officials are bringing in to consult on city planning. Last week, it was reported that Charleston will work with the firm headed up by world-renowned planner Andres Duany to evaluate the city's Board of Architectural Review.
Here are a few of Klein’s ideas:
1. Bring back downtown trolleys - Adding streetcars to the downtown transportation network is a feasible way to diversify transit options in the area, Klein says. Using existing rail rights-of-way from Mount Pleasant St. to John St., the city has a unique chance to integrate a separated light-rail system for the north part of the peninsula, before splitting to an in-traffic streetcar system. (Klein helped oversee D.C. DOT when it was setting up that city’s controversial streetcar system.)
2. New Visitor Center - Klein points out that the city’s visitor center, built at the north end of development downtown when it opened, is now in the center of the city. A new welcome center proposed near the corner of Meeting St. and I-26 could function as a hub for out-of-town visitors and a satellite parking area for drivers who could transfer to other modes of transit to travel farther downtown.
3. Transit from airport - CARTA has instituted new express routes to carry people to and from the airport in recent years, but Klein says additional resources devoted to promoting the inexpensive option could make sure it gets equal billing with taxi and shuttle options and get more people riding CARTA. 4. Changes to existing downtown parking - If a car is the only you have to get downtown, Klein thinks you should pay more for it, but by adding the ability to pay by phone or credit card could make up for increased rates by making it easier and increasing revenue.
4. Getting the word out - One of the biggest challenges of big capital projects to expand transportation services is getting the public on board. Klein proposes a "Transportation Demand Management" program to help drum up support by helping market new services and educate residents on current and proposed benefits of an expanded system.
5. Pedestrian and bike improvements - From new public spaces and pedestrian crossing patterns to adding more bike lanes and a bike-share program (Chicago and D.C. both started bike-shares under Klein), there’s plenty that the city can do to make it easier, safer, and more informative for cyclists and pedestrians to get around downtown. (The city has already been working on a bike-share system.) One radical idea that Klein admitted may be sacrilegious: Opening the small beach along the Battery to the public.
Like them or not, there are plenty of other ideas like these in the full report. It’s unknown when or if city officials will take the recommendations to heart, but if the downtown real estate boom continues at its current clip, the next few years will bring big decisions for Mayor Joe Riley, his successor, and city planners.
We couldn't let 2014 get away from us without recognizing some of the best of the worst we've seen on the Blotter page over the past year. We've got five of our favorites listed below (you probably remember these chumps), but we want your help to crown a champ. Cast your vote at the bottom of this post.
Pride and Poop - A 71-year-old woman walked out into her yard to ask a woman if she could please teach her dog to poop somewhere else. According to witnesses, the woman with the dog responded by shoving the elderly woman, yelling racial epithets, and waving a bag full of dog crap in the lady’s face.
Dunkin' and Whizzin' - A resident at a nursing home was walking outside the building with her dog when she saw a fellow resident put down a box of donuts, unzip his pants, and pee on the side of the building. When she asked him what he was doing, the man reportedly turned toward her and kept peeing. The woman went inside and was about to get on the elevator when the man cut in front of her and called her a bitch.
Bros Pressuring Bros - A USC fraternity brother who said he was in town for a “formal” was seen stumbling down the sidewalk around 1:30 a.m. with his tuxedo hanging open unbuttoned. The bro said he had been drinking, but that he just wanted to have a good time. Then he asked the cop if he wanted to have a good time. The officer searched the bro and found a half-gram of cocaine in a plastic baggie, which the bro explained he only uses “because of all the pressure from everyone.” He also claimed he had consumed 36 alcoholic beverages that evening.
Wrestling with Jesus - When a cop asked for identification from a man who was refusing to pay an $11.65 taxi fare, the man said he had lost his driver’s license at a bar. He also said he was unemployed, but that he was “wrestling with Jesus.” The cop asked what that meant, and the man replied, “Well, just wrestling with Jesus to try to figure him out. I wrestle with them all, even Noah and Muhammad.” When the cop arrested the man on charges of public intoxication and defrauding a public accommodation, the man said he wanted to be an electrician and that he had “secret clearances.” Then he started dancing.
Handsy Mascot - A restaurant employee says he was dressed as a mascot when a customer started “kissing him, dancing inappropriately on him, and at one point took [the mascot’s] hands and placed them on her chest,” according to an incident report.
Over the next two weeks, 1.4 million of you will take to the roads, traveling at least 50 miles. With gas prices averaging $2.22 a gallon in S.C., that means a car with a 13-gallon tank can fill up for under $30. Source: The State, P&C
The city has released a report drawn up by transportation planner Gabe Klein, hired by the city to take a look at chances for improvement of Charleston's transportation potential. Source: P&C
Federal investigators have reportedly been working a case involving potential bribery of officials by contractors at Joint Base Charleston, according to warrant papers obtained by the P&C. Source: P&C
Local cops remain vigilant this week after the point-blank killing of two NYPD officers while they sat in their squad car on patrol in Brooklyn over the weekend. Source: P&C
Two pieces of Gamecock news for your Tuesday: With Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer both hurt for the Cleveland Browns, former USC quarterback Connor Shaw may get the start this Sunday against the Ravens. Source: Cleveland.com
After a couple years fighting repeated knee injuries that led to his retirement, ex-Gamecock running-back Marcus Lattimore will return to Columbia to finish his degree and will reportedly become an "ambassador" for the school. Source: GoGamecocks.com
American Apparel founder Dov Charney, recently voted out as the company's CEO, got some of his early t-shirt experience in South Carolina, learning the trade from older generations of textile workers. Source: P&C
There have been 82 bills filed in the state House for when the legislature reconvenes in January, among them are an equal pay proposal, ethics reform, and a proposal to require gun rights awareness education in state schools. Source: The State, P&C
A $110 million cost-saving measure in the president's defense budget proposal would ground eight of the C-17 Globemaster transport jets stationed at Joint Base Charleston. Source: P&C
In an interview with former House Speaker Bobby Harrell this weekend, the ex-state rep. maintains that he did nothing wrong despite pleading guilty to corruption charges that forced him from office earlier this year and does not rule out a return to politics. Source: P&C
President Obama has found unlikely Republican allies in Congress, with U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake and Rep. Mark Sanford vowing to push through proposals to begin normalization of relations with Cuba. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, on the other hand, is not on the same page. Source: Politico, P&C
Emails and documents obtained by the Charlotte Observer show North Carolina officials challenged by competition presented by South Carolina and other states in the area that present aggressive economic incentive packages as states bid against each other for potential businesses. Source: Charlotte Observer
S.C. DSS has taken four men into state custody after a NY Times report last month an intellectually-disabled man who lived and worked for small wages near a Kraft turkey processing plant in Newberry, S.C. Source: NYT
Norman Rockwell scene of the day: A man who crashed his single-engine plane into the Congaree River over the weekend was rescued by a group of Boy Scouts who happened to be paddling nearby. Source: WIS-TV
Charleston is hiring Andres Duany, a renowned planner and one of the creators of New Urbanist movement, to help rethink the city's BAR approval process. Source: P&C
A tour guide is suing the city of Savannah over mandatory testing required to be a licensed city tour guide. Similar laws, also in place in Charleston, were upheld in court in New Orleans earlier this year. Source: NYT
A new study in the American Journal of Human Genetics finds that about 5 percent of people who identify as 'white' in South Carolina have at least 2 percent African ancestry. S.C. also had the highest percentage of African ancestry among people who identify as 'black.' Source: Vox
Big news, Charleston: The restrooms at City Hall are now open to the public on weekends.
The city announced today that, thanks to a partnership with the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the potties on the ground floor at 80 Broad St. are now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The rest of City Hall is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
We're not even trying to be cheeky here. If you haven't been, these are among the most architecturally fascinating lavs in our architecturally fascinating city. Here's a snapshot we took of the men's room a few months ago during a particularly tedious City Council meeting:
Combine that with the documented shortage of public bathrooms on the peninsula? Good news all around. Take it from us, Charleston: You're in for a treat.