New housing development approvals will allow 105,000 new homes with the capacity to house 267,000 more people in the Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties. Experts predict that this will push the number of people living in the tri-county area to over 1 million people.
The Post & Courier examined the number of homes approved for new construction in the metropolitan area by gathering information from local governments and reviewing development agreements. The new housing construction will economically benefit the area by creating new jobs and services, such as additional retail stores, schools, and hospitals. Local municipalities will receive increased tax revenue. However, they will need to pay for more services including police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
But the traffic congestion that will come with such rapid growth is of major concern to current residents. It is predicted that another 105,000 homes may add 210,000 new vehicles on the road. Local residents are worried about the traffic jams and the cost of new road construction projects to alleviate congestion.
New Housing Developments in the Charleston Area
The size of the newly approved developments will be a special challenge, with nine new developments approved for more than 4,000 new homes each. Many of these new developments will move traffic onto two lane roads. Widening or extending a major road may cost upwards of tens of millions of dollars for each mile built. To widen the 4-mile stretch on S.C. Highway 41 in Mount Pleasant to meet the traffic congestion created by new development will cost $132 million. To complete the last 8 miles of Interstate 526 will cost $725 million.
The mega cluster of four new developments in Berkeley County of 30,000 homes in Nexton, Carnes Crossroads, Cane Bay and on the Wildcat tract near Cane Bay will result in road construction costs of approximately $88 million to widen Interstate 26 and create a new interchange. In western Charleston and Dorchester Counties, two new developments with 6,000 homes – Summers Corners and Spring Grove – will be a mixed blessing. They will create about 10,600 temporary construction jobs, 6,659 industrial, office and retail jobs, and additional property tax revenues of more than $205 million. But they will also bring traffic pressures.
Many of the large developments will be built in phases over long periods of time. Most of these new housing developments were approved before the Great Recession and have yet to begin construction. Many of the large developments have multi-decade development plans in place. Even the smaller developments have a multi-year phase-in for construction.
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