Charleston Moves asked the candidates for Mayor of James Island how they feel about bicycle and pedestrian issues faced by that community. Each candidate was e-mailed the same list of questions which are listed below in the first response received, from Warren SloanWe are listing their responses, verbatim, in the order in which they were e-mailed to us.
Thanks again for the opportunity to answer your questions and to interact with your group. Please pass on my well wishes to your friend and I hope he recovers fully from the accident.
As a life long resident that has had to deal with traffic on Harborview, I can understand the concerns with the traffic. I have reviewed the project and personally do not think that the project will accomplish the goals with addressing the bridge. There are absolutely no funds for the bridge or for the area between the bridge and the 4 lane portion of Harborview heading towards the connector. There are many people that see this project as a chance for Harborview Rd to have some beautification and multi use paths. I support multi-use paths but also realize that the Town does not have any money for installing them on their own. I also worry about having multi-use paths that end at the bridge making the bridge even more hazardous to cyclists due to more and more people taking advantage of the new paths. I would support seeking some out-of-the-box alternatives such as retrofitting the bridge with multi use paths. I think that this type of project could attract some grant monies to the town to help pay for it. The main issue is that with the project the Town has taken a "HELL NO" approach that leaves little room for addressing our concerns and making sure we get the most for the tax payer investment.
1. Controversy persists over plans to spend approximately $16 million on improvements to Harbor View Road. One of the principal objections to the plan is that it fails to deal with the bottleneck at the James Island Creek.
a. What is your position on the proposed improvement. Please be sure to deal with issues relating to pedestrians and cyclists
I am not sure this is possible as most of the money comes from Federal sources that if not sued for this project may end up somewhere else in the State or in another State. I think this is a major motivating factor for the County to push so hard for this project. I also believe that this area is very important for the Town and if the money could be uses for something other than widening, then we could find uses along this and along Ft. Johnson Rd.
b. In light of the fact that traffic counts on Harbor View have declined in recent counts, would you support the use of the same earmarked funds for certain improvements on Folly Road on James Island instead?
2. What priority would you accord funding for bicycle lanes, sidewalks and other alternative forms of transportation in your budget?
James Island has exhausted all of its reserves over the last two years and so we will not have many funds to pay for any capital projects in the near future. We will explore grant monies and alternative solutions to see if we can move projects forward while we try and recover from the misappropriate spending that has taken place over the last few years. One quick fix would be to do some maintenance to paths we do have along Harborview Rd. As much as I would like to commit to spending more on these projects, I can not given the status of the current budget. Once money becomes available it will be within the top 3 issues to be addressed.
3. What is your opinion as to your responsibility to cooperate amicably with other officials in the region on these matters?
Our ability to work with other governments is key. We have currently alienated every surrounding government including the JIPSD. One of my first priorities is to reach out to all of the other governments to see where we can cooperate. I talked with members of all of the surrounding governments prior to deciding to run and all seemed willing to work with us to better James Island. There are no decent excuses for not working to find solutions that will helpJames Island as a whole.
I hope that I have answered your questions completely. With my focus on budget issues, it may seem I am not very interested in your group or its goals. I do not feel like we have the choice as a town if we want to continue not charging a property tax to residents. I do see the value and will work towards finding alternative solutions. Unlike the current Town, even if I disagree with someone I feel it is vital to listen and learn prior to making any decision and I hope that you know if you have any further questions I would be happy to answer them.
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(Answers in italics)
1. Controversy persists over plans to spend approximately $16 million on improvements to Harbor View Road. One of the principal objections to the plan is that it fails to deal with the bottleneck at the James Island Creek.a. What is your position on the proposed improvement. Please be sure to deal with issues relating to pedestrians and cyclists
The solution to the problems on Harbor View Road is *not* to implement the current RoadWise proposal *and* widen the James Island Creek Bridge. That solution will fundamentally change the character of the Harbor View Road corridor, bringing substantially more traffic and commercializing the residential properties along Harbor View Road. The solutions for cyclists, for pedestrians, and for automobile traffic are separate and must be addressed separately. First, we must *immediately* complete the bicycle lanes from the south island to the James Island Connector (which lies on the north island); the danger cyclists subject themselves to on this mile-long stretch of Harbor View Road is unacceptable and needs to be a top priority. Next, we must address pedestrian traffic down the entire length of Harbor View, giving precedence to the areas most likely to be walked; we should prioritize sidewalks that facilitate walking to the commercial area of Harbor View (between Quail Drive and Affirmation Blvd) and routes by which children might walk to school. Finally, we must start from scratch on the solution for automobile traffic, and optimize the process of entering and exiting the flow on Harbor View Road; doing so will obviate the need to widen JamesIsland Creek Bridge.
b. In light of the fact that traffic counts on Harbor View have declined in recent counts, would you support the use of the same earmarked funds for certain improvements on Folly Road on JamesIsland instead?
If the money is fungible, and the plan for Folly Road is sound, I would support transferring the funds for improving automobile traffic to another project. The main priority on Harbor View is to avoid commercialization, so doing nothing is preferable to implementing the current RoadWise plan.
Funding for alternative forms of transportation is my #1 Development priority. Unfortunately, Development is less urgent than Maintenance as we will inherit dirt roads in such terrible shape that the Postal Service has threatened to stop delivering there.
My administration will cooperate amicably with the other Governments on the Island, proposing the creation of aJames Island Council of Governments, which will allow for an ongoing joint planning and development discussion. In addition, we will regularly attend the meetings of the Island’s other Governments, voice our opinions, and invite other governments to do the same.
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Answers to questions
1. A. The Town of James Island objected to the Roadwise Plan for Harbor View Road, which is not a real improvement. We are currently in litigation. We submitted an alternate plan of a smaller footprint with seven foot pedestrian paths on either side off Harbor View Road, from Ft. Johnson Road to the Connector, with cantilever bridges hanging on either side of the Harbor View Bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians. They would not negotiate our plan.
B. Only about $4 million was to be spent on their plan for Harbor View Road, the balance was Federal grant money which would not have been used on James Island, but elsewhere. I believe that this is unfair, and this wasteful project should not be completed as currently planned.
2. The first incorporation of the Town of James Island ('93-'96) built the four foot bike lanes on either side of the Harbor View Road and on Folly Road from Battery Island toward Folly Beach. When that town was dissolved in 1996, they had the plan ready for grant proposals to do bike paths on Ft. Johnson Road from Folly Road to Ft. Johnson. In the second incorporation ('02-'04), we tried to address this project and have bike paths to many of the side roads leading to the historical places of James Island. We did not have much success. In this third incorporation, we support bike paths, for which we are seeking grants.
3. The Town of James Island has not had much success in dealing with the officials of the City of Charleston and the County of Charleston as the City has challenged our very existence, and the County has passed an arbitrary rule which only applies to the Town of James Island, that a municipality with a population of over 5,000 must negotiate for services. Perhaps at some future time, they will make a more sincere effort to cooperate with the Town of James Island for much needed transportation issues.