By Jon Brucejbruce@abcnews4.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- They may look like simple concrete slabs, but for neighbors and town leaders in Mount Pleasant, a series of new sidewalks represent so much more.
If you've recently traveled down the frontage roads near the Ravenel Bridge, no doubt you've seen construction crews digging, paving and carefully crafting the new walking paths that will provide a safe alternative for the routine car trip across Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.
Michelle Williams lives in the Cooper Estates neighborhood just off one of the frontage roads.
An avid biker, Williams is looking forward to the day the he can take his beach cruiser around the neighborhood and across Highway 17 without the danger of a major thoroughfare.
"We are really looking forward to the sidewalks being done." Williams said. It's going to open up so much for us.
Williams has made it a habit to leave the car at home and bike to nearby Shem Creek, but says the addition of sidewalks will greatly enhance the vitality of the neighborhood and greater Mount Pleasant.
"I can walk or ride to Trader Joe's now!" she said. "Before, I was certainly a little scared of biking along the Frontage Roads. But with these new wide sidewalks, I think I will be venturing out more.
In addition to the new and improved sidewalks, the county's Roadwise website, which updates the public on the scale and progress of the project, also states both frontage roads will be widened in each direction. They will also feature a new four-foot-wide marked bicycle lane.
The effort is all part of a massive facelift for Mount Pleasant.
Charleston County tax payers are footing the bill for the nearly $70 million Johnnie Dodds Improvement project.
The scope of the project is huge and includes widening Johnnie Dodds to three lanes in each direction and a new overpass at Bowman Road.
The new sidewalks will not only provide a pleasure cruise for walkers and bikers but are aimed at also being a boost to local businesses that line Johnnie Dodds.
It's all part of a long process that Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura says will have lasting impacts.
"Traffic will move much more freely than it does today. When we surveyed residents, businesses, and visitors sometime back, traffic was the number one concern that people had," he said during a recent interview.
For a complete list of the improvements, a timeline, progress report and Aerial photos click here: http://www.ccroadwise.org/projects/johnnie_dodds/index.php