Charleston leaders work with other cities on growth, transportation

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Cars, buses, walkers and bikers all share the narrow streets of downtown Charleston. By 2030, officials think the city's population will top 1 million.

"It seems increasingly difficult to get around," downtown resident Katharine Hastie said.

City officials wanted to ensure people can still get around as the population and tourism continued to grow. The Historic Charleston Foundation hosted speakers Tuesday night who already dealt with it in other cities.

"Charlotte has embraced transit," said architect Terry Shook with Charlotte-based firm Shook Kelley. "In Charlotte, ridership levels now exceed the 2025 projections. It's been a phenomenal success. We will open a new line in a couple years."

Tim Keane, Charleston director of planning, preservation and sustainability, said the city must make room on the road for transportation other than cars.

"What is the next generation of public transit? Maybe it's buses, maybe some other technology, trolleys, street cars," he said.

In the short term, bike shares will be available on the peninsula by the end of the year, he said. And officials were considering using car and ride sharing apps like Uber, a GPS-activated mobile app that allows users to order a taxi and pre-pay via credit card.

But people in the audience still had questions.

One man asked: "How are other cities using their waterways?"

Another asked: "How do we convince those merchants to take that leap and close down King Street to pedestrians?"

Regarding closing King Street to cars, Keane said that had failed in other cities like Chicago. He also said King Street merchants were against the idea.

While officials said they don't have all the answers, they will continue to work with the public to keep the dialogue going.

Next, Keane said local leaders must figure out how to provide more funding for CARTA.