IOP Connector construction begins

MOUNT PLEASNT, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Isle Of Palms Connector is Mount Pleasant's major link to the beach.{} Every day more than 24,000 vehicles travel it.

Now, 1.3 miles of the road will be widened from Highway 17 at Greystone Boulevard to Riviera Drive near Seaside Farms.

"The goal of the project is to move traffic down the Isle of Palms Connector through the Rifle Range intersection. That's really the busiest intersection we have today," said Richard Turner, the project's engineer.

He says the expansion is needed because more drivers are using the road.

"Last summer we had some record numbers. I think the city of Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island both recorded record numbers for visitors on Memorial Day weekend. So that's certainly a concern," said Turner.

As a result, two extra lanes will be added in each direction, along with turning lanes at each of the four intersections. To make it happen, Ed Adams is using a spader to uproot the long row of live oak trees.

"We've got to move 50, 55 trees something like that. It'll take us about a week," said Adams of E.G. Tree Company.

The trees are being replanted in different areas of Charleston County. When the trees are gone from the Connector, other machinery will move in.

Managers at King Street Grille think the construction could eventually help their business.

"I think any kind of improvement on the traffic flow is good for everyone involved. You know, the more people that come by, the more people that see us. Also, the easier it is to get to us, the better off we are," said Mike Germain, the eatery's general manager.

And some drivers look at the project as a temporary inconvenience for permanent improvement.

"I think it'll be a good idea to just widen it a little more, you know, for the traffic and bumper to bumper things like that," said Jaunwanna Singleton, who uses the IOP Connector.

The entire project will cost about $2.3 million. It's paid for by the county's transportation sales tax.

Depending on the weather, it should be completed by May 13.