As part of an ongoing public outreach program, the Palmetto Commerce Interchange (PCI) project team has received scores of comments regarding the interchange, its design and impacts. Each comment submitted has been addressed on an individual bases. Below are answers to common questions regarding PCI.
How are the alternatives being evaluated?
As a complex project, alternatives for the Palmetto Commerce Interchange are evaluated through multiple levels of screening. Alternatives determined to meet the project purpose and need during early screening were further evaluated under the following criteria:
-Cost: The project team reviews the entire project cost associated with the alternative to determine if it is
unreasonably expensive compared to other alternatives.
-Traffic: a large, integral traffic study is performed to evaluate adjacent interstate interchanges, feeder roads and
other local roads and intersections.
-Environmental: The alternatives are analyzed based on their impacts to the natural environment, cultural
resources, and communities.
-Public input: Public input is considered along with the other screening criteria.
What alternatives are still being considered?
Reasonable Alternatives 3, 7 and 8 were carried forward to the next level of screening determine the preferred alternative. The preferred alternative is currently under final review by our agency partners for approval. Once the draft NEPA documents are approved, they will be presented at a public hearing where the public will have an opportunity to provide additional comments.
What is the preferred alternative for PCI?
The project team is currently analyzing three alternative concepts, weighing a range of factors, including environmental and traffic impacts, cost and public input. The preferred alternative will be presented at a Public Hearing spring 2019.
Will a sound barrier, such as a noise wall, be included in the PCI project?
A noise study for Northwoods Estate was performed within the last few years, and it was determined an abatement measure – such as a noise wall – would reduce noise from the interstate. However, abatement measures for the must comply with SCDOT and Federal Highway Administration guidelines and design criteria.
Currently the abatement measure does not meet all the guidelines as both Feasible and Reasonable, and Charleston County, along with the City of North Charleston, continues to review options and funding measures. For the interchange project limits, a noise analysis will be conducted to determine the anticipated noise impacts and whether abatement measures for those impacts are both Feasible and Reasonable.
What is being done to address potential impacts from light pollution?
As the design progresses for the preferred alternative, light pollution and its impacts will also be evaluated.
What will be done about flooding?
Charleston County is committed to improving the drainage with the design of the preferred alternative, and this may include stormwater ponds, improved ditch capacity from Salamander Road to I-26, etc.
Why is there no access to the east side of the interstate in any alternative?
An interchange with access to both the east and west portions of I-26 was considered by the project team, but did not prove to be reasonable or able to gain the support of the City of North Charleston. It was obser`ved that providing a connection to the north side of the interstate would create a significant impact to the adjacent residential areas as this connection would not only require the relocation of homes but also widening of the existing roadway network to accommodate the increased traffic volumes. Costs for the construction of this option, should it have been further pursued, would likely have been beyond the project budget. For these reasons, access from the east side of I-26 is not being considered as part of the project.
Will there be vehicle backups if traffic lights in the preferred alternative?
A traffic analysis will be performed for each alternative in order to assess the length of vehicle queues at the proposed traffic signals. Since cross traffic at either of the proposed diamond interchanges will be minimal, the signals will operate more efficiently as additional "green" time will be provided for traffic exiting the interstate – and that will reduce the potential for backups onto I-26. The exit ramps in the preferred alternative will be designed to accommodate expected vehicle queues.
Will bicycle and pedestrian facilities be included in the project?
Accommodations for bicycle and pedestrians will be included within the project limits to allow for future connections to other destinations.