Tuesday, February 19, 2019

After deadly accident on James Island, county wants input to improve Maybank Highway corridor onto Johns Island

Two meetings set to discuss traffic and development along Maybank Highway

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 9:38 AM

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A week after a man died from his injuries after being struck crossing near Maybank Highway, Charleston officials will gather on Tuesday night to give details and hear input on how to improve the busy corridor as development continues.

Charleston County officials have been piecing together proposals to improve Maybank Highway on James and Johns Island for more than a year. In that time, development has continued at both ends of the busy road — average daily traffic on James Island jumped 25 percent on Maybank in 2017 between Wappoo Drive and Folly Road, according to the latest SCDOT data. The most recent improvements on the road extended a westbound lane onto Johns Island from the bridge over the Stono River.

Tuesday's meeting at 7 p.m. at Harbor View Elementary (1576 Harbor View Rd.), a joint effort between the city and county, will solicit input from residents with experience traveling and living near the area everyday. County staffers working on a Maybank Highway overlay district on James and Johns islands will also present findings of input sessions held last year. A second workshop will be held on Thurs. Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. at St. Johns High School (1518 Main Road) on Johns Island.

The meetings come less than a month after 36-year-old David Massie was struck by a car while walking along Maybank Highway on Jan. 29 between Woodland Shores Road and Gevert Drive, a busy area with several restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment venues. Massie died last week from his injuries.

Business owners in the area say they have tried to take steps to make the street safer as the area has gotten busier. Pour House owner Alex Harris says he'll be at Tuesday's meeting and hopes public input will help bring more attention to possible solutions.

"I don't know exactly what all they should do, I just know that I work there everyday," Harris, a Johns Island resident, says.

Terrace Theater owner Paul Brown says in response to the increased car and foot traffic, the Terrace Plaza shopping center has added valet parking as well as new lights and signs. "For years, we've been trying to get a lit crosswalk, a stoplight by the plaza, reduced speed, and some sort of bridge, but that’s an uphill battle," Brown says.

Harris points to a new tunnel built a decade ago under Maybank at the base of the Stono River bridge to protect golfers at the city golf course from high-speed traffic coming from Johns Island.

"There seems to be as much traffic between the Terrace, Maybank [Public House], and the Pour House, than there is at the golf course," he says.

About 29,500 cars traveled Maybank Highway in front of Pour House in either direction on an average per day in 2017, up from 23,600 a year earlier, according to SCDOT.

Brown and Harris both say that high speeds continue to be an issue along the portion of Maybank Highway in front of their businesses, which sits just around a blind curve for traffic coming from Johns Island.

Harris says he's talked with Charleston Moves and Coastal Conservation League to try to mobilize with groups that have helped organize similar efforts.

"Something definitely needs to be done," Harris says.

"We do hope that out of all this will come immediate attention to these issues," Brown adds.

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