City of Charleston Traffic & Transportation Committee Recap

[January 10, 2022]

The City of Charleston’s Traffic & Transportation Committee met this afternoon to discuss a number of important topics related to multi-modal transportation. Please see below for an overview of the highlights. You can view the recorded livestream HERE.

Through the latter part of 2021, the City and their consultant continued to push this project forward, clearing a number of hurdles, including:

  • NEPA documentation approved
  • RFQ (Request for Qualifications) sent
  • 30% design plans submitted
  • 2 design-build teams have been shortlisted
  • US Army Corp permit submitted (Coast Guard permit will be submitted soon)

Through conversations with the design-build teams and consultant, it has been made clear that the project, as proposed, exceeds the City’s previous cost estimate and allotted funding (there is $26.25M dedicated). The reevaluated cost is $35-40M. This escalation is largely due to market conditions, specifically COVID and supply chain issues. In order to stay on track, the consultant is looking at reducing the width of the bridge from 20′ to 14′ wide, and the multi-use path from 12′ to 10′. This design change, in addition to some material and seismic adjustments, would save ~$9M, bringing the total cost range to $28-32.8M. This lowers the shortfall to $1.75-6.55M.

We at Charleston Moves are disappointed to hear that the width might be narrowed, though we understand the funding issue and appreciate that the City is keeping the project on schedule. A 14′ wide bridge will still function and serve the vital purpose of providing a safe route for people walking and biking between the peninsula and West Ashley. We strongly encourage the City to pursue every potential funding source to overcome the shortfall, and work to add a few more feet of width to get closer to the original vision of the bridge and multi-use path connection. And of course, we’re very happy that this project continues to move forward!

Here’s a overview of the timeline from now through construction:

  • January 2022: coordinating with SCDOT and FHWA on seismic design requirements, updating 30% plans, submitting OCRM permits
  • February 2022: working on draft RFP and sending to City, SCDOT and FHWA
  • March-April 2022: review and update draft RFP, get to design-build teams in April for their review
  • May-July 2022: design-build teams will review RFP, providing questions and meeting with City
  • August 2022: [KEY MILESTONE] getting final RFP issued to design-build teams — hits federal requirement for obligating the project for construction (deadline to meet requirement is 9/30/22)
  • 3rd-4th Quarter 2022: receive technical cost proposals from design-build teams, construction contract approval by City Council
  • 2023: design efforts by design-build team and possible construction of intersection improvements
  • 2024-2025: bridge under construction

[Coverage by The Post & Courier HERE]
[City of Charleston’s Ashley River Crossing project page HERE]

There are two businesses — Babas on Cannon and Cutty’s — that operated parklets last year, as part of a pilot program to support local business and foster a safe environment for the public during the pandemic. SCDOT has been clear that their approval of Babas’ parklet (as it was on a state-owned section of Cannon Street) was for emergency-use only, and is not a permanent or long-term project. As such, that parklet has been removed.

The City has worked up parklet design guidance for businesses located on City-owned streets. The requirements will likely include a fee and support from nearby property owners and the neighborhood. The parklet in front of Cutty’s has been removed, but they’re encouraged to apply once this guidance is complete.

The Committee discussed what it would cost for the City to take responsibility over more streets that are currently under SCDOT’s jurisdiction, which would allow for more creative and expansive uses, such as parklets and robust bicycle infrastructure.

[Coverage by News 2 HERE]

After receiving six bids, Lime has been awarded the contract as the City’s new bike share operator. Charleston’s contract with Holy Spokes, the first and current bike share program, expires in February of this year. Lime will present and discuss their launch at the next Design Review Committee meeting.

[Coverage by Live 5 HERE]