By Stefanie Bainum
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) – Many drivers in Mount Pleasant are counting down the days until the Highway 17 construction project ends, while some bus riders hope parts of the project are just beginning.
The Mount Pleasant public transit advocacy group, Hungryneck Straphangers, are joining forces in calling for improved bus stop conditions East of the Cooper.
"What we want to do is see 8 to 10 first-class sheltered bus stops installed along Johnnie Dodds corridor and part of West Coleman Boulevard as part of completion of this road project," bus rider William Hamilton said.
Mount Pleasant resident William Hamilton is legally blind and cannot drive a car. He takes the CARTA Route 40 bus from his home in Mount Pleasant to his law office in Downtown Charleston almost everyday.
Hamilton says he's been taking the bus since the 1970's but things have changed.
"This is particularly unfortunate because we have seven benches out along this roadway that we spent years getting installed before this construction came and all of them are now gone," William Hamilton said.
With ridership up 74 percent on Route 40, Hamilton says now is the time to improve, not ignore, Mount Pleasant's public transit.
"We have no decent bus stops anywhere near the Bowman 17 intersection and that was the busiest area to ride the bus before construction started," Hamilton said.
According to Hamilton, bus riders and pedestrians were promised safe highway crossing and improved bus stops as part of the half penny sales tax referendum voted on seven years ago to fund the $140 million dollar Highway 17 construction project.
"We don't feel and we don't see on the ground any adequate provisions for safe accessible bus stops," Hamilton said. "We should be seeing concrete and benches, after all, we are seeing concrete and iron and electricity and poles every where else but the bus stops aren't there."
Charleston County has not yet responded as to whether bus stop improvements were in fact promised as part of the Mount Pleasant construction project.
Director of Transportation for the Town of Mount Pleasant, Brad Morrison, says the town has maintained the bus stops during construction and will retain them after construction is complete.
The bus advocacy group, Hungryneck Straphangers, will appear at the Mount Pleasant Town Council meeting on Tuesday night during the public comment period. The meeting is being held at the town's Council Chambers on Ann Edwards Lane at 6 p.m. Tuesday night.