Worst Lowcountry traffic areas revealed in DOT data crunch

Charleston traffic (WCIV)

Traffic congestion in the Lowcountry is a fact of life during the morning and afternoon commutes.

Some Lowcountry drivers say the traffic is starting to become comparable to larger cities.

"I've been in Orlando and I lived in Atlanta, and this feels like a metropolitan city," said Danny Tyrone Davis.

Tom Starland lives in Bonneau and says his commute time has doubled over the last 30 years.

"I used to have an office, in downtown Charleston. I could go to Bonneau Beach, 45 minutes from my office to there. It's an hour and a half now on a good day," said Starland.

Abby Sharpe lives in downtown Charleston and says she adds on at least 15 minutes to her commute in case of traffic.

"I've lived here 6 years, and I feel like traffic has gotten a lot worse since we've lived here," said Sharpe.

Some businesses have even had to change their hours so employees and customers can make it on time.

"We moved it to 4:45- 6:15 p.m. instead of 4:30-6 p.m. giving them that cushion because everyone was showing up late," said Ashley Palmer.

Without question, traffic headaches are growing pains for Lowcountry drivers. But where in the Lowcountry has it the worst?

According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, an average of 190,600 vehicles per day drove on the stretch of Interstate 26 from the Highway 52 Connector to Ashley Phosphate Road around the Northwoods Mall.

That roughly 2,000 foot stretch of interstate is the most heavily traveled section of roadway in Charleston County, and in the entire Tri-County area, DOT data shows. What's more, traffic volume along that stretch is up 25 percent from just five years ago, DOT analysis shows.

The area of I-26 around the I-526 interchange saw the second highest daily average traffic volume in the Tri-County area in 2016, with 163,400 cars passing through the 1-mile stretch between Remount Road and I-526.

I-26 in Berkeley County from College Park Road to Highway 78 had a whopping 94,200 vehicles drive through every day in 2016, up 14 percent from 2012.

The most traveled roadway in Dorchester County was the stretch of Interstate 95 from Highway 78 to Highway 178, with 43,700 vehicles passing through every day.

That number is up 10 percent from five years ago.

Transportation officials say the traffic on Lowcountry roads may not shrink anytime soon, unless the Lowcountry embraces more alternative transportation methods.

Keith Benjamin, Director of Traffic and Transportation for the City of Charleston, says planning for the future means making room for all modes of getting around.

"If we're going to work on how we mitigate traffic we have to talk about how multiple modes can function all together at the same time, we wont be able to get out of it just with the automobile, we have to think past that with transit, with bike and with pedestrian," said Benjamin.

Below are the 12 busiest sections of road in the Lowcountry, based on the DOT's average annual daily traffic volume data.

  • 190,600 - Interstate 26 from U.S. Hwy. 52 Connector to Ashley Phosphate Road
  • 163.400 - Interstate 26 from Remount Road to I-526
  • 162,400 - Interstate 26 from Ashley Phosphate Road to Aviation Avenue
  • 153.100 - Interstate 26 from Aviation Avenue to Remount Road
  • 104,300 - Interstate 26 from U.S. Hwy. 78 to U.S. Hwy. 52 Connector
  • 101,400 - Interstate 26 from Dorchester Road to Cosgrove Avenue
  • 100,800 - Interstate 26 from I-526 to Montague Avenue
  • 99,500 - Interstate 26 from Cosgrove Avenue to Spruill Avenue / Meeting Street Bridge
  • 98,800 - Interstate 26 from Spruill Avenue / Meeting Street Bridge to Heriot Street
  • 97,900 - Interstate 26 from Montague Avenue to Dorchester Road
  • 94,200 - Interstate 26 from College Park Road to U.S. Hwy. 78
  • 90,800 - Interstate 26 from Heriot Street to Mount Pleasant Street
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