Smart-Growth-41-logo

Updated January 30th, 2024

(This is a different comment request than from the summer of 2023)

Smart Growth 41 has just learned that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) has finally issued the Public Notice regarding Charleston County’s application for the state required permits for Highway 41 project and proposed Laurel Hill Parkway. This action was expected last fall and corresponds with the nearly identical Army Corps of Engineers public notice from June 9th, 2023.

You can read the permit application here: https://epermweb.dhec.sc.gov/ncore/external/publicnotice/info/-7238352563132460495/details

The announcement now starts a comment period which will end on February 18th and where feedback can be provided. You can submit comment through the Smart Growth 41 portal by clicking the green buttons on this page or by visiting the SC DHEC website directly. (If you submit comments directly through the SC DHEC portal, be sure to request a public hearing)

By way of background, this permit application is a procedural step by the state, that must occur in order for the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to proceed with its ongoing internal and federal interagency approval or denial deliberations. Typically, this application runs concurrent with the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) review process, but it appears that the process has been delayed due to the extensive comments submitted regarding this project back in June 2023 and SC DHEC is now working to get caught up.

The notice of the permit application does not indicate the status of the pending Army Corps permit decision and serves as one of the only opportunities for the State to formally comment on the Army Corps Application. Although the permits appear related, it is important to note that the State’s decision to issue or deny a permit under South Carolina’s Coastal Zone Management laws is separate and exclusive from the entirely different set of more stringent federal rules and criteria for approval that the Army Corps process must follow.

Issuance or denial of the permit by SC DHEC merely serves as the official State comment, required to complete one of the numerous other sections in the administrative record the Army Corps must fulfill before moving forward with permit decisions. Additional comments from State Historic Preservation Office, and federal agencies such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation will also be sought before a decision is made on the Army Corps of Engineers permit application.

At present, there is no indication that the Corps is moving forward with a public meeting in the immediate future, but we still expect one to be announced at some point down the line. Smart

Growth 41 is monitoring this situation closely and will continue to provide additional updates as things develop.

Smart Growth 41 is a coalition of citizens working to advance the best transportation solution for the Highway 41 expansion in Charleston County.

Our Primary Concerns are with

Identifying The Best Travel Solution

The “Road to Compromise” proposal does not address traffic in the neighborhoods it plans to bisect. It also is a poor solution considering the estimated 18,000 home units being built in Berkley County which will use Highway 41.

Child & Pedestrian Safety

The “Road to Compromise” proposal poses a safety risk by routing highway traffic into neighborhood streets and posing a safety risk to pedestrians and cyclists.

Severe Environmental Loss

A massive area of forest and marshland will be lost forever if the “Road to Compromise” is built.

Cost to The Taxpayer

"The Road to Compromise" will cost $23 million more than what was originally budgeted for Highway 41 expansion. This shortfall will likely need to be covered by higher taxes or by redirecting funds from other County transportation projects.

The Facts

The “Road to Compromise” proposal would be $23 million more expensive than what was originally budgeted for this project, more adversely affect the surrounding environment, and fail to address the future growth needs of our region.

The Facts

The “Road to Compromise” proposal would be $23 million more expensive than what was originally budgeted for this project, more adversely affect the surrounding environment, and fail to address the future growth needs of our region.

For over five years Charleston County has been working to identify a solution to alleviate the current and worsening traffic problems on Highway 41. After an extensive study period it was determined that Alternative 1, widening the existing Highway 41 right-of-way, was the most practical and effective transportation solution to alleviate area traffic issues and accommodate future growth in the region. It would accomplish this goal at the lowest cost to the taxpayer and with the smallest environmental impact.

Along the way several misconceptions developed regarding the preferred Alternative 1 solution. Charleston County is now in the process of revisiting a modified version of the previously rejected Alternative 7 proposal to widen Highway 41. Colloquially known as the “Road to Compromise”, it would be $23 million more expensive than what was originally budgeted for this project, more adversely affect the surrounding environment, and fail to address the future growth needs of our region.

Smart Growth 41 was created to dispel this confusion surrounding the expansion of Highway 41 and to find the solution that would have the lowest cost and greatest benefit to Charleston County. At the start of this process several evaluation criteria were established to determine which proposed expansion of Highway 41 would best meet the project need. The leadership of Charleston County should lean on this scorecard and adopt a facts-based approach when determining their final design for this project.

Environmental Impact

Environmental Impact

The "Road to Compromise" will destroy a large section of park forest, disrupting wildlife permanently.

Hawks, Alligators, Turkey, Deer, Ducks, Cranes, Heron, Coyotes, Wild Cats, and more will lose their territory and very likely their ability to survive.

These photos were taken of wildlife living in the forest that would be impacted by the new highway

stork
gator
heron
woodstork
cormorant

The below drone footage shows the area of Charleston county forest that will be destroyed for The "Road to compromise".

In fact, our drone range wasn't far enough to show the entire path of deforestation.

The map below shows the new Laurel Hill Parkway path through the
forest wetlands and skirting neighborhoods in Park West.

thumbnail_IMG_2086
Artboard 1-100

Child and Pedestrian Safety

Child & Pedestrian Safety

The “Road to Compomise” will route highway traffic through a congested pedestrian area with walkers, joggers, bicyclists, and young children that has previously experienced tragic accidents. Dramatically increasing the number of vehicles driving through this area will greatly increase the potential and probability for more accidents involving pedestrians.

School Children Hit by Cars

The proposed extension splits 2 neighborhoods, and will force families to regularly cross a four lane highway to access public schools, child care, parks, and amenities, causing a safety hazard.

In Park West alone, there have been 2 publicized accidents where children using the crosswalk have been hit by a vehicle, despite numerous safety measures such as a crossing guard and flashing warning lights.

Read the ABC News 4 Report Here

“All of the cars had stopped on both sides and then when she started to go out, this truck just came around from nowhere and hit her,” said Rogge. “When the truck hit her, her whole body went flying over to that side in the air. She had a fractured skull and she had road rash all over her, she had stitches all up in her mouth, she was in the hospital for three days”

Increased Traffic Volume  equals higher rates of pedestrian incidents

Rerouting existing highway traffic through more densely populated neighborhoods could increase the scale of traffic incidents involving pedestrians. Current traffic models estimate that 7,800 cars per day take a trip through these neighborhoods, but if the "Road to Compromise" is advanced, that is estimated to increase to 23,800 trips by 2040.

The "Road to Compromise" negatively impacts the safety of the 606 dwellings off of Dune West Boulevard, as well the 1782 dwellings in Park West (the two neighborhoods that would be most affected by this project). Bicyclists and young children have already been hit at crosswalks this year in the direct path of the new proposal as reported on the NextDoor app (April and June) [Click to read more] and that will likely increase if more traffic is routed through these neighborhoods.

Common Misconceptions

The #1 misconception is home displacement. No Homes would be displaced in the Alternative 1 plan.

Myth: The "Road to Compromise" is a new proposal to Highway 41.

 

Fact: The "Road to Compromise" is a slightly modified version of Alternative 7, a previously considering proposal to widen Highway 41. Alternative 7 was rejected due to the higher costs, more significant environmental impacts, and longer drive times associated with the plan as well as its failure to address the future growth needs of the region.


 Myth: The previously approved Alternative 1 plan for Highway 41 has been revisited because of concerns that additional land would need to be acquired and homes would be taken in order to complete the project.

Fact: Existing right of way is sufficient to complete the Alternative 1 proposal for Highway 41 without any additional improvements provisioned for by the county. Only 15 feet of additional right of way on each side of the proposed corridor would be required in order to move forward with the previously approved and recommended plan to widen the existing Highway 41 Route. This additional right of way would not be used for travel lanes, but instead would be used to create a center turn lane requested by the communities located along the Highway 41 corridor as well as a landscaped sidewalk and recreational path.


Myth: The new “Road to Compromise” proposal for widening Highway 41 will not be any more expensive than what was previously budgeted for Highway 41 expansion.

 

Fact: The “Road to Compromise” will cost almost $30 million more than what was originally budgeted to expand Highway 41. To cover this shortfall some combination of additional tax revenues and budget cuts to other important programs and transportation initiatives will need to likely need to be enacted.


Myth: The "Road to Compromise" is the most environmentally sound solution to widen Highway 41.

 

Fact:

The rationale previously used for selecting Alternative 1 over Alternative 7 (a plan similar to the “Road to Compromise” that was previously rejected) was sound, thorough and compelling in virtually every measurable category of the NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) analysis. Alternative 7 was inferior to Alternative 1 in almost every category defined in the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) process. The “Road to Compromise” does not seem to address or improve any of the well documented detrimental aspects of Alternative 7 including:

  • A larger construction footprint
  • The creation of a new major drainage system which will displace hundred of millions of gallons of road runoff into pristine rivers and marshes
  • Major environmental disturbances to Laurel Hill County Park
  • Increases in automobile pollution due to longer travel times for drivers

Myth: Highway 41 needs to be widened to account for additional traffic from Dunes West and Park West as there are still several thousand houses left to be built out in both communities.

 

Fact: Construction of new houses in Dunes West and Park West is nearly complete. There are less than 100 houses to be built out between the two communities. This lessens the feasibility of reducing Highway 41 from four to three lanes at the entrance to these communities, as the additional traffic traveling on Highway 41 will mostly be due to development in Berkeley County. The estimate for new homes leading from 41 in Berkley County is now 18,000 units.


Myth: There are already plans in place to widen Dunes West Boulevard within the next 5 years. The “Road to Compromise” proposal provides an opportunity to further leverage already planned infrastructure improvements

 

Fact:

The Town of Mount Pleasant, which has jurisdiction over Dunes West Boulevard has no immediate plans to expand the road. In fact, the widening of Dunes West Boulevard is not even included in the Town of Mount Pleasant’s long term capital improvement plan. Widening the road as future improvement as part of the “Road to Compromise” would be an additional logistical and fiscal factor that would need to be taken under consideration.

Ask Your Reps for a Safer, Cost Effective, Environmentally Concious, & Efficient Transportation Solution

Win-Wins for All Communities

Workable solutions have been discussed by neighborhood leaders from a variety of communities along Highway 41. These solutions avoid encroachment into neighborhoods, enhance historic preservation & awareness, avoid devastating environmental destruction, increase pedestrian safety, and address future high volume travel coming from Berkeley County.  Click here to read about one such proposal and dialogue.

Additional Resources

Read Responses from the 2023 Town of Mount Pleasant Candidate Survey on Highway 41

Park West Community Official HWY 41 Survey

Highway 41 Project Website

Highway 41 County Council "road to compromise" Powerpoint Download

Read Responses from the 2021 Candidates for Town of Mount Pleasant Council on The Subject

Our contact form is sent to local leaders:

Charleston County Hwy 41 Project Team: hwy41sc@gmail.com 843-972-4403 

Charleston County Councilmen 

District 1  Herb Sass:   hsass@charlestoncounty.org 843-693-8305 

District 2 Larry Kobrovsky LKobrovsky@CharlestonCounty.org (843) 955-8143

District 3 Robert L. Wehrman 843)958-4030 (O) rlwehrman@charlestoncounty.org

District 4 Henry E. Darby (843)901-6793 (C) henrydarby@msn.com

District 5 Teddie E. Pryor, Sr. (843)958-4030 (O) tpryor@charlestoncounty.org

District 6 Kylon Jerome Middleton (843)325-4577 (C) kmiddleton@charlestoncounty.org

District 7 C. Brantley Moody (843)270-2483 (C) bmoody@charlestoncounty.org

District 8 Joe Boykin JBoykin@CharlestonCounty.org (843) 214-0337

District 9 Jenny Costa Honeycutt 843 -693-6447 jhoneycutt@charlestoncounty.org

Town of Mount Pleasant Council

Mayor Will Haynie  bashe@tompsc.com (843) 884-8517

Howard R. Chapman, P.E.  councilclk@tompsc.com

Brenda Corley  councilclk@tompsc.com

John Iacofano councilclk@tompsc.com

Carl Ritchie councilclk@tompsc.com

Laura Hyatt  councilclk@tompsc.com

Jake Rambo councilclk@tompsc.com

Gary Santos councilclk@tompsc.com

Guang Ming Whitley councilclk@tompsc.com

Senator Larry Grooms: LarryGrooms@scsenate.gov

State Representative Mark SmithMarkSmith@schouse.gov

State Representative Kathy Landing: KathyLanding@SCHouse.gov (803) 212-6975

State Representative District 112 Charleston County Joe Bustos: JoeBustos@schouse.gov