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‘Road diet’ charrette

Posted: November 17, 2011 11:12 a.m.
Updated: November 18, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Thank you for participating in the recent Broad Street "road diet" charrettes. Your input is critical to planning for improving and growing our downtown. Two paramount goals were accomplished:

• Information was provided so that participants understood the opportunities presented by the project.

• The desires of those same participants were collected so we can truly understand what is important to you.

The city of Camden, in partnership with the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration, heard from many interested individuals and groups during these meetings and has received other written inputs which have provided invaluable insight for the future of Broad Street and downtown Camden. 

What is a road diet?

If I’ve heard it once, I've heard it many, many times: "Get control of the traffic on Broad Street … the trucks rattle my windows … downtown is not safe … the lights are not effective." The intent is to calm and improve traffic flow with designated turn lanes and better signalizations. In most cases downtown main streets were turned into four or more lanes in response to increased traffic. Today, alternate means to handle ever-increasing traffic allows for reclaiming downtowns. A road diet is designed to reduce lanes, with the remaining right of way redesigned to include:

• Wider sidewalks.

• Bicycle lanes.

• More downtown parking close to shopping and dining.

• Streetscape elements.

• Dedicated turn lanes.

• Aesthetic and pedestrian comfort.

• Economic growth.

Road diets are implemented to provide a more balanced approach to transportation.

Which comes first: truck route or road diet?

The truck route, conducted by the Santee-Lynches Council of Governments (COG) and the SCDOT, has been funded and the truck route has been planned. The truck route must be completed before the road diet. Fortunately, in 2010, the city of Camden applied for and was successful in gaining a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover (TIGER) grant from the U.S .Department of Transportation. Nationwide, only 33 grants were awarded, and Camden was one of those 33. Thus, in responding to the 2009 Camden Downtown Vision Plan and to you, the truck route is first and the road diet is second.

The results

The truck route will provide:

• Effective and efficient means for transfer traffic to bypass downtown.

• Alternate travel options for U.S. 521.

• Safe large vehicle traffic patterns.

The road diet will provide:

• Economic development activity.

• Housing opportunities.

• Multi-modal transportation enhancements.

• Environmental improvements.

• Increased downtown parking.

• Safer pedestrian environment.

• Walkable areas.

• Increased foot traffic.

• Increased private investments.

• Aesthetics, outdoor seating.

• Traffic control and calming.

• Improved quality of life for businesses and citizens.

You can expect some construction disruptions. To every extent possible, they will be minimized. The above results cannot be delivered without change; change does host impacts. This change could be funded by the Santee-Lynches COG and this change is to improve our hometown and to fulfill your desires.

The economic input of this project will have a very positive impact upon our community. Direct spending by annual visitors to South Carolina approaches $10 billion, with a total economic impact of more than $16 billion. The basic manner to determine basic spending is:

1 person x $ for lodging + $ for gas/transportation + $ for food + $ for entertainment + $ for incidentals/souvenirs = direct spending impact per person

A standard economic impact analysis traces flows of money from traveler and tourism spending:

1) first to businesses and government agencies where money is spent and then to;

2)other businesses -- to those supplying goods and services to local businesses;

3) households -- those earning income by working in or supporting local businesses; and

4) government -- through various taxes and charges on travelers/tourists, businesses and households. 

Great streets rarely happen by accident; great streets require vision and knowledge to make them happen. Road diets, when implemented properly and in the appropriate context, can enhance the livability and shopability of a street and contribute to the traits that make a street , a downtown great. Thank you for participating and thank you for your continued support for improving our community.

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