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Traffic, Traffic and More Traffic
8/17/2016 3:07:38 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

It appears that schools got off to a fairly good start this year or at least some did.  Y’all know yours truly will be on top of problematic situations at schools as they develop so stay tuned. The yellow school buses racing along the overcrowded highways trying to get students to school on time is a lesson in agility.  Did county planners err when they built the Glenn McConnell Parkway to relieve the traffic on Highway 61?  The Parkway was built with a specific purpose in mind.  Then businesses and homes sprouted up like wild flowers along the Parkway, some visible and some hidden from view down small winding roads. The growth from industries new to the area would draw thousands of motorists to the area and negate the purpose of the expansion. Surely, someone saw this meltdown coming. 

West Ashley traffic is a nightmare and soon 174 apartments will be available for occupancy at the corner of Wallace School Road and Highway 61.  Parents waiting to drop off and pick up their children are already backed up to the corner of Savage Road. You can’t just jump out there and expect to get anywhere on time without planning your day in advance.  I don’t schedule early morning appointments anymore so I get there when I get there.  If Glenn McConnell Parkway was constructed to help alleviate traffic along Highway 61, why did they build so many structures on the parkway? 
Take a look at some of the major contributors to the West Ashley traffic: St. Francis Hospital, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Chick Fil-A, West Ashley High School, new homes and housing apartment complexes, Sonic, Medical Offices, banks and Channel 5; well, do you get the picture?  Large trucks transporting trash to the landfill on Bee’s Ferry also use the parkway. The longtime residents that the parkway was designed to help did not benefit from the parkway.  Many of the residents from Shadowmoss, Springfield, Drayton on the Ashley, Village Green, Canterbury Woods, just to name a few subdivisions, are still making their way down scenic route #61 bearing short fuses as traffic creeps along at a snail pace.  The residents north of Bees Ferry Road can make one of two choices.  They can either creep along on the Glenn McConnell Parkway or Highway 61.  Those are the choices.  It just depends on where one needs to stop along the route and which route would be more convenient for that particular day. 

Don’t even mention the “A” (accident) word on Highway 61.  Whenever an accident occurs, you might as well call your job or call the law because you are going to be late. The historic highway with its grand oaks stretching upwards toward the heavens is breathtaking during early morning drives.  

The highway has only two lanes and belongs in a museum and not a high tech society. Yet, there is little that can be done to change the traffic situation on Highway 61 short of chopping down some trees or buying up some properties to make way for additional lanes. Did I say chopping down some trees?  

Those tree preservationists would have a field day with me.   However, I am for preserving the historic value of Highway 61 while making way for the West Ashley “newbies”.  It really is a rich stretch of beauty, particularly near the Gardens. I never envisioned growth on Glenn McConnell Parkway would have been so great and impacted travel so adversely. Who the heck are the planners for West Ashley? Mr. New Mayor, Tecklenburg, HELP!! You can jump in anytime with your fresh ideas for West Ashley.  If they can cut down some trees for access on Maybank Highway surely they can find some solutions along Highway 61.  I am almost afraid to idle too long under some of the rotten trees along Scenic 61 fearing one might topple over on my car. And, of course, there will be no more writing for me.

Short of the traffic, the growth for Charleston has been a good thing.  The convenience of a beautiful hospital and medical office complexes certainly make them accessible to the surrounding communities.  Then there are the do-it-yourself stores.  I can remember when I was renovating my home running back and forth to Northwood Lowe’s and Home Depot to purchase materials.  I had to time myself when I left home and timed myself to get back before traffic started.  I had it down to a science.  Then I would develop an unsolicited attitude with the store clerks if they held me up and caused me to have to fight the traffic back home.  It was always “hurry-up” I’ve got to get out of here before traffic starts. Then the West Ashley locations opened up and what a relief that was.

Growth is inevitable.  How about y’all telling those County Planners that to grow is divine; but to sit in traffic for hours is hard on the behind.


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