Council, officials still split over I-526 debate


By Valencia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV){}-- County Council member Colleen Condon spent{}the evening with concerned homeowners in West Ashley, just 24 hours after a{}five-hour meeting discussing the proposed extension of I-526.

"I don't think I heard a single new fact last night," Condon said.

Condon spoke Wednesday with women whose homes would be moved in order to accommodate the extension.

"Tonight, I was with the other council members Pryor and Darby and we were looking and our staff says, 'Well don't worry about these homes at The Savannah in West Ashley. Don't worry about all these town homes where people might loose their homes because maybe they could move the highway 30 feet away from their front door,'" said Condon. "So you think that house wants to live that close to the highway -- 30 feet from an interstate?"

Condon{}is a{}supporter of the group Nix 526. The group is fighting against the extension.

"I don't think we changed anyone's mind," said Elliott Summey about Tuesday's lengthy meeting. "I think the folks who are either for it are for it, or against it are against it."

During a meeting before County Council Tuesday, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley presented a map with projected traffic relief if the proposed 526 plan is completed.

"Mayor Riley put what Robin Welch called the Tinkerbell map up. And, I think that's a good name for it," Condon said.

The map shows relief in almost all areas in West Ashley, James Island and Johns Island.

Nix 526 said that is a misconception.

The group said traffic numbers would only lessen by a few thousand cars in some areas, which would not be enough to significantly loosen traffic.

"Savannah Highway will still be severely congested as bad as it is now or even worse, because 526 extension is not meant to improve Savannah Highway at all," Condon said.

Elliott Summey is a supporter of the extension. He said he hopes there can be a compromise to get the job done.

"What I'm hoping is that the mayor was able to hear some of the complaints from the folks on Johns Island and maybe he can come up with ways to tweak his plan to make it a little easier for them," Summey said. "And, hopefully (Johns Islanders) can come to the understanding that hey, that money is just not available to do the things that they want to do with that particular pot of money."

A final vote is expected at a Charleston County Council meeting on Thursday, Dec. 13.