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Whether or not I-526 is extended, Johns Island traffic frustrates residents

Traffic on maybank Highway on Johns Island. (WCIV)

“Coming home it can be almost an hour,” Kristen Cario said about her drive time home to Johns Island.

“It’s like 45 minutes to an hour coming home from work,” resident Middy Joyce added.

Mark Lentz has lived in the area for seven years.

Each year, his commute has gotten longer.

“Getting home, the bridge just piles up past the golf course," he said, about the Stono River Bridge coming from James Island.

He, like many others, are frustrated with the traffic.

“New people moving here, you think it’s an accident, no, it’s just a normal day," Lentz said.

Middy Joyce is one of those new people on the island.

“People warned us, they were like, 'don’t do it, don’t do it, you’re going to spend most of your day in traffic and you’re going to spend more in gas,'" she said. "But it’s cheaper to live out here.”

Joyce moved to the area in March.

Today Governor McMaster released a statement saying the extension of 526 should be completed, which would allow for another way on and off the island.

READ MORE | 526 completion project gains traction with Governor McMaster's support

Joyce said, “I hope it works, I hope that helps, but at the same time, people keep moving here every single day so they’re going to have keep building more and more extensions to things.”

According to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, roughly 28 people move into the Charleston region a day.

Lisa Turansky with the Coastal Conservation League said this $720 million I-526 extension project won’t make a significant difference helping drivers getting on and off the island.

“If it were to provide significant benefits to the region, we would consider that, but looking at all the studies that have been done there have been no real benefit to Johns Island; there a minimal traffic benefits. We are talking minutes, shaving minutes off of commutes,” Turansky said.

Kristen Cario has lived off and one the island since she was a child.

She said, “When I was younger, it was a whole lot better, but with everyone moving here daily, it’s just gotten worse.”

Like her other neighbors, she’s just hoping for relief.

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