Palmetto Business Daily recently asked our Facebook users to tell us what they think is the most important issue facing Charleston-area businesses right now.
The clear winner? Traffic and/or infrastructure.
We received almost 500 engagements with our Facebook post, including almost 100 comments — the majority of which identified traffic-related issues as the area’s biggest business challenge.
“Charleston is way behind the curve on traffic infrastructure and they're not getting ahead of it,” wrote Charleston resident David Owens Jeffcoat. “I am absolutely dumbfounded and baffled as to why Charleston hasn't got the 526 connector built to John's Island. If a hurricane was to hit this area you would see a lot of people trapped and they could never evacuate in time.”
Local resident Debra Brazell agreed.
"Heavy traffic all hours of the day, bad highways," said Brazell. "All it takes during the day is one bad accident," said Brazell. "It backs up traffic on I-26, downtown, West Ashley, the Ravenel Bridge, and the James Island Connector. It stops everything. If we have a hurricane warning, we'll never make it to the interstate."
Bryan Derreberry, president and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, told Palmetto Business Daily that our Facebook readers were spot-on in identifying the most important issue for regional businesses.
“Traffic and transportation infrastructure is priority #1 on the minds of the entire business community,” said Derreberry. “Across the entire region, improvements must be made to alleviate gridlock and increase safety. The Charleston Metro Chamber will continue to work with our coalition partners locally and across the state to pass a dedicated, long-term funding solution and to address priority infrastructure improvement projects in our region.”
Mark Smith, town councilman in Mt. Pleasant, was also among the respondents to our Facebook question, writing that, "traffic tied directly to lack of housing affordability options" was the most important issue for local businesses.
As Palmetto Business Daily reported last month, some experts feel that efforts to restrict dense housing developments could have a direct impact on traffic and housing affordability.
“These denser neighborhoods, especially neighborhoods that are nearby community services such as grocery stores, pharmacies, schools and things like that, will reduce the traffic typically associated with high density areas,” Debby Waid, chief program officer with the South Carolina Community Loan Fund, told Palmetto Business Daily. “Overall, the projects are less expensive to develop, and they provide a better range of housing opportunities for various level of income people.”