[November 5, 2021]
Thanks to your engagement, Charleston County funded a Road Diet Study for Azalea Drive between Cosgrove and Leeds a few months ago. Because Azalea was scheduled for an upcoming resurfacing by the SCDOT, the Road Diet Study was timed to be able to incorporate the findings before the resurfacing plan was finalized.
The study showed that rebalancing the roadway to accommodate safe space for multiple modes would not measurably impact motorist travel time. SCDOT accepted the report from the County. Before the agency could incorporate a road diet into the resurfacing plan, Charleston County was required to collect public input. The County presented the road diet proposal to adjacent neighborhoods, area elected officials at the municipal and state levels, and also collected feedback online. Charleston County staff hosted an informational pop-up at the intersection of Azalea and Cosgrove, next to Grove Corner Grocery and The Kitchen at Grove, as well as the memorial ghost bike that marks where Jae Bellamy was hit and killed while bicycling home.
Charleston Moves shared the public input opportunities as well, and we were particularly pleased that the County took the time to go into the community. Several of you joined us for bike/ped counts at the intersection of Azalea and Cosgrove, helping us collect data on the impressive volume of people walking and biking the area, and documenting safety issues. There is no question that people are regularly bicycling the Cosgrove and Azalea corridors, and it is not comfortable or safe.
All of this work not only helped inform the benefits of a road diet and bike lanes on Azalea, but also helps move us toward a larger system of safe biking and walking access to a Better North Bridge, the planned Lowcountry Rapid Transit improvements along Rivers and the King Street Extension, and the sidewalk being constructed along Azalea from Cosgrove to the Lowcountry Food Bank.
The feedback from adjacent neighborhoods was not only positive, but also included requests to do further work constructing more sidewalks in other nearby locations. While those requests could not be incorporated into the Azalea resurfacing and road diet, they are something that should be considered with the City of North Charleston’s recently approved infrastructure bond.
The first phase of the resurfacing and restriping was done a couple of weeks ago, from Cosgrove to Bonds. The second phase is planned from Bonds to Leeds, to take place next year. The new bike lanes are a wonderful step forward in providing safe haven for vulnerable road users as they travel to work, home, school and run errands. Our hope for the longer term is to work with the City of North Charleston on their vision for an Azalea Trail, a multi-use path along the utility corridor.