South Carolina’s first mass transit system is coming to the Lowcountry and residents will help decide its aesthetic identity and name.
The proposed 23-mile Lowcountry Rapid Transit project, to stretch across Highway 52 (Rivers Avenue) and Highway 78, will boast an image and a brand of its own.
Officials from the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (COG) are inviting residents to contribute to the design process to ensure the bus rapid transit system “fits in” with the Lowcountry’s unique character.
To gather public input, COG recently held a series of interactive, public community workshops in Charleston, Summerville and North Charleston.
“This will help as we create the identity of the corridor,” COG Principal Planner Shannon Hollis said. “When we start to design the stations, guideways and materials we use, it’ll have a common theme; it needs to be a theme that really fits with the community,”
About 60 Summerville residents turned out for a workshop Jan.30 at Alston-Bailey Elementary School. Working in groups, they answered questions centered on what people celebrate about the area’s culture and history.
After a brainstorming session, workshop participants presented their ideas, and many groups chose “waterways” as Charleston’s primary feature. For Summerville, residents said they appreciated “a high quality of life” and “economic livability.”
Summerville resident Sarah Redmond said her group described the area as having a distinct “Charleston essence.”
“You know you’re in Charleston because of the architecture, the beauty, the people, the culture... the food,” she said. “And we have that same mix right here in Summerville.”
Redmond said people love the Lowcountry’s “vibrant, thriving communities”and residents want to see “opportunity for all” as region grows.
“I think this transportation system is so badly need and I wish it was going to be here a lot sooner than it is,” Redmond said.
According to Edward Tupper, the Lowcountry is known for its hospitality, history and “stayability.”
“People come here and they don’t want to go,” he said.
Retired consultant Dan Dewald expressed his eagerness to use the mass transportation system as a means of traveling from Summerville to Folly Beach and Isle of Palms. Currently he faces roadway congestion and even parking problems when traveling to the peninsula.
“It would be nice just to go and not worry,” Dewald said.
Described as “a light rail on wheels,” the BRT will operate on a 23-mile-corridor using a dedicated lane for its 16 electric large, articulated (bend-in-the-middle) buses. Up to 90 passengers will be able to ride each bus through the corridor between Summerville and downtown Charleston.
Because of its dedicated lane, the BRT guarantees a 60-minute travel time for passengers who access the rapid transit system from 18 different stations, located along the corridor. The stations will also include park-and-rides and transit hubs, said COG officials.
Proposed stops will include Trident Health/Charleston Southern University, the Northwoods Mall, North Charleston, and the Amtrak Station.
Hollis said project designers will review survey results from the three workshops and incorporate the information into the BRT’s design and branding process.
Another public meeting will take place this spring to update the public on the project design.
“I’m anxious to see what they come up with from those ideas,” Hollis said.
COG officials anticipate the transit system becoming a reality by 2025.
To learn more about the BRT visit the Lowcountry Rapid Transit website. The public is also encouraged to offer design input..