State grant to pay for study of Boeing impact on roads

Charleston Regional Business Journal
Ashley Fletcher Frampton
November 17, 2009

As Boeing prepares to start construction on its new local assembly facility, Charleston County officials want to know how traffic from the job center will strain local roads.

To that end, they will use a $150,000 grant from the S.C. Department of Commerce to ask the Davis & Floyd engineering firm to study the traffic impact of the project.

The firm will also recommend improvements that will be needed for surrounding roads, interstates and intersections in order to adequately handle the traffic from an expected 3,800 added jobs.

Charleston County Council’s Economic Development Committee on voted Thursday to accept the grant and authorize the study. The grant is from the S.C. Coordinating Council for Economic Development, a part of the Commerce Department.

With the Boeing groundbreaking set for Nov. 20, the county could find itself “somewhat behind the eight ball” if it doesn’t look at future road needs now, Councilman Vic Rawl said.

Elliott Summey, chairman of the county committee, said officials want to plan ahead for road upgrades, not react to congestion in a year or two. But they don’t know what kind of traffic to expect.

“We’re hearing all kind of numbers,” he said.

Once Davis & Floyd recommends improvements, which should be within 90 days, the county could commit to making some of them, possibly with help from state or federal dollars, Summey said.

Rawl said the state-approved incentives for Boeing could include money for road improvements, but right now no one knows what, specifically, those legislative incentives are for.

The county will use Davis & Floyd for the study because the Charleston County Transportation Committee, which is involved in the planning of state-funded road projects, has an open-ended contract with the firm, Summey said.

He said that Boeing and the Charleston County Aviation Authority already have done some traffic studies and that the Charleston Area Transportation Study, a regional road planning organization, has a high-occupancy vehicle study under way. Davis & Floyd will combine and supplement those studies.

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