Summerville Town Councilman and mayoral candidate Russ Touchberry has released his priorities for upgrading and maintaining Summerville’s infrastructure, including improving our roads with safety, bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, and congestion relief in mind.
Touchberry, a civil engineer in the transportation industry, is sought after from other cities, counties, and the state to help fix their critical infrastructure.
“By far the most important issue to Summerville residents is traffic. Regardless of the distractions other candidates want you to focus on, I know this is what impacts us every day. I am outlining my infrastructure priorities, so that you know I am going to work every day to push these forward as the way to improve our quality of life in Summerville,” Touchberry said.
“These solutions are not easy. They are going to take years, but if we do not start talking about them now – and planning for them – we will not be able to get them done. Much like what the town did with the North Maple Street extension that is now under construction, if the town does not take the lead on these priorities, they will be shelved and not get done. It is going to take relationships and working together with our partners at the county, regional, state, and federal level to get these done.”
Touchberry’s infrastructure priorities are:
- Champion a solution for North Main Street that ties the Berlin G. Myers Parkway to the Interstate towards Charleston.
The most significant infrastructure need is the Highway 78 to I-26 stretch of North Main Street, especially the Berlin G. Myers (BGM) Parkway intersection. The North Maple Street extension, the Nexton Parkway, and the upcoming Cedar Street extension are good beginnings. A solution needs to divert cars going from the BGM Parkway to I-26 East without getting on North Main Street. This will take a lot of coordination and support from both Berkeley County and S.C. Department of Transportation to accomplish. A possible solution could upgrade the existing interchange with US-17A or potentially require creating a new interchange.
- Prioritize the Oakbrook intersections to create better flow that revitalizes the area.
The Dorchester, Trolley, and Ladson Road intersections need to be an immediate priority of Summerville, North Charleston, and Dorchester County. We need to start planning efforts within this corridor to improve flow at the intersections that also creates and retains the ability of the property owners in Oakbrook to invest to revitalize the area. We have made good strides with the connection of Wallace Ackerman Drive, but there needs to be more to relieve this choke point of congestion. We need to push forward on infrastructure improvements in this area.
- Partner with Dorchester and Berkeley counties and continuously advocate to complete the promised road projects critical for our Town.
Last year, voters in both counties extended the one-cent transportation sales tax to fund more road projects. Many of these road projects will benefit Summerville: the Orangeburg Road widening, the repaving of Midland Parkway, the Cedar Street extension, the North Maple Street Extension, upgrades to Central Avenue and Parsons Road, and many more. We need to be at the table as a town fighting for our share from both counties to fund the projects that help Summerville.
- Make the Sawmill Branch Trail more accessible by expanding and connecting it to downtown Summerville.
The Sawmill Branch Trail is great, but it can be better. We need to improve it, expand on it, and look for how we can make logical trail connections to our businesses and parks. The Summerville Vision Plan from several years ago provided a good starting point for us. Russ will pull stakeholders together to evaluate what was planned then, determine what has changed, and drive our future planning efforts towards actionable projects that benefit our Citizens.
- Connect more of Summerville through sidewalks to make our community safer for pedestrians and bicycles.
Summerville has to continue to retrofit its aged street system to create a safer community for pedestrians and bicyclists. Russ’s plan commits to more sidewalks and access for bicycles to be able to make our streets safer for all modes of transportation: cars, bicyclists, runners, and walkers. This plan will be prioritized and phased to complete our sidewalks to nowhere and provide safe access to our businesses, schools, and parks.