The Planning Department takes an active role in transportation planning both on and off the island. This requires planning and coordination with various entities.
Kiawah Island Parkway Intersection and Corridor Study
Considering the existing and future development patterns on and off the island, as well as inside and outside the Town of Kiawah municipal boundaries, the planning department sought to proactively understand the potential impact of these developments on Town roads. The Town hired consultant Kimley Horn to conduct this study.
The purpose of the Kiawah Island Parkway Intersection and Corridor Study is to analyze the intersection capacity of select intersections along Kiawah Island Parkway, Betsy Kerrison Parkway, and Seabrook Island Road during existing, short-term, and long-term conditions. For this study, existing conditions were in 2021, short-term is 2026, and long-term is 2036 conditions. The short-term conditions included known upcoming developments in or near the Town of Kiawah Island that can increase the traffic volume on the Town’s roads. The long-term conditions included vacant parcels of land that are not currently slated for development but could be developed in the future. In connection with the complete study, the Town also contracted to evaluate the potential impacts of the proposed Andell West development.
The Town monitors traffic along the road it maintains, including the Kiawah Island Parkway and Beachwalker Drive. The Town contracts with third parties to conduct traffic counts along the Kiawah Island Parkway as well as Beachwalker Drive, Flyway Drive, Governors Drive and Ocean Course Drive for a comprehensive understanding of overall Kiawah Island traffic volumes. These traffic counts are conducted annually during three two-week periods in June, July and August.
Beachwalker Drive Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Action Plan
The Town contracted planning and design consultants Kimley-Horn to develop a safety action plan addressing bicycle and pedestrian interaction along Beachwalker Drive, additionally the intersection of Beachwalker Drive and Kiawah Island Parkway. The plan aimed to analyze continuous bicycle paths, options for raised pedestrian crossings, and safety options for the cohesion between bicycles, pedestrians, and vehicles. Kimley-Horn also analyzed geometric improvements to the Beachwalker Drive at Kiawah Island Parkway intersection to supplement the plan. The project was divided into two phases. The first phase, which included the improvements along Beachwalker Drive, have been completed. The second phase, which is the reconfiguration of the intersection of Beachwalker Drive and Kiawah Island Parkway, is being further evaluated.
For the second phase of the Beachwalker Drive Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Plan (intersection improvements), Kimley Horn provided two options: The first is adding an eastbound right turn lane at the Kiawah Island Parkway to Beachwalker Drive intersection, which will help residents skip the queue and avoid getting stuck behind vehicles going through the gate. The plan also changes outbound traffic behind the gate from two lanes to one, which will create a free-flow traffic situation. The second option moves the pass distribution away from the gate. With either of these options, Kimley-Horn predicted increased levels of service and vehicle delays, which ultimately improves community safety and traffic flow.
The Town is also considering purchasing the Kiawah Island Real Estate office to continue to make improvements to this intersection. In the spirit of continued transparency, the Town will provide updates as they become available but as of right now, nothing has been decided for the second phase of this project.
Interstate 526 Extension
The purpose of the Mark Clark Extension project is to increase the capacity of the regional transportation system, improve safety, and enhance mobility to and from the West Ashley, Johns Island and James Island areas of the Charleston metropolitan area.
In 2018, Charleston County Council approved a phased, three-segment approach for the Main Road Corridor Project. These much-needed projects will provide a more efficient access point on and off Johns Island by improving the intersection at US 17 and Main Road, in addition to further improvements along Main Road. The enhancements include improved drainage, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and widening from Bees Ferry Road to Betsy Kerrison Parkway, a distance of approximately 15 miles.
Segment A: Segment A of the project begins at Bees Ferry Road and continues along Main Road across US 17, ending at the intersection of River Road at Chisolm Road. Charleston County is currently advancing preliminary design work for both the widening of Main Road between Bees Ferry Road and Chisolm Road and a new interchange at the intersection of US 17 and Main Road. Also, as part of the project, the West Ashley Greenway will be extended to Bees Ferry Road.
Segment B: This segment of the Main Road Corridor project is currently inactive.
Segment C: Main Road Corridor Segment C begins at the intersection of Bohicket Road and Maybank Highway and extends to Betsy Kerrison Parkway. Several options will be examined for the segment, including widening River Road, widening Bohicket Road and constructing a new road across the island.
The Kiawah Island Parkway Improvement Project completed in 2020 was a major road improvement project funded by the Town of Kiawah to repair and resurface the Parkway from the roundabout at Freshfields to the main gate. The project included substantial landscaping improvements. The new landscaping utilizes more than 80% native plants and incorporates strategies to reduce and filter stormwater runoff, minimize the use of pesticides, and enhance wildlife habitats.
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