Work is underway on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant that will greatly improve the area’s drainage situation and add both functionality and charm to a corridor that handles approximately 30,000 vehicles a day.
Motorists began seeing traffic barrels in what was the right westbound lane of Coleman – and the disappearance of turn lanes in the center of the street – on Sept. 17. The project, which was supposed to launch on Sept. 11, was delayed six days by the rain that accompanied Hurricane Irma.Improvements from Mill Street to Pherigo Street will be completed, in four phases, by August 2019, according to Mount Pleasant Director of Transportation Brad Morrison. The cost of the roadway portion is $14.738 million, while $3.464 is to be spent to relocate and upgrade utilities, for a total price tag of $18.202 million.
When the work is done, the amount of storm water directed into nearby neighborhoods will be greatly reduced and the quality of the water that drains into Shem Creek will be enhanced as well. In addition, curbs, gutters and sidewalks are to be replaced, bike lanes and on-street parking will be added, a traffic signal will be installed at Pherigo Street and another one is to be replaced at Fairmont Street.
“The whole idea is to make Coleman Boulevard more bike-able and walkable,” said Morrison.
The contractor for the project is Blythe Development Co. of Charlotte, North Carolina, which was established in 1989 and now does almost $110 million in business annually. The Coleman Boulevard project is the first job the company has done for the town of Mount Pleasant. Blythe is currently working on improvements at the intersection of Highway 61 and Highway 7 in West Ashley; water, sewer, storm drainage and paving work and installing curbs and sidewalks in Coosaw Preserve; and similar work in Brighton Park in the Nexton development in Berkeley County.
Morrison pointed out that the Coleman Boulevard project will make Shem Creek a better place to live and play for local residents and for the fish and fowl that inhabit the town’s iconic waterway. A water quality device designed to remove sediment, trash and other undesirable items from the runoff into the creek is to be buried beneath the ground on Simmons Street, adjacent to the Moultrie Plaza parking lot.
Morrison, who has served in his current position since 2009, said Simmons Street will be completely closed at times but that Coleman will most likely remain open to traffic. When the median is installed, the work will be completed at night, and one lane each way will probably be closed.
“There probably won’t be a point where Coleman will be closed to all traffic,” he commented. “We might come across something unexpected where there will be full closure, but I don’t anticipate that happening. But with construction, you never know.”
The project will be completed in four stages. First, a sewer main, a water line and the water quality device will be installed on Simmons Street, between Coleman and the Shem Creek Boat Landing, while drainage improvements, curbs, sidewalks and gutters are being completed on the west side of Coleman. This work is expected to be completed by April 2018. In Stage 2, scheduled for completion in December 2018, similar work will be done on the east side of Coleman. The center median will be built and landscaped during Stage 3, which is slated to be finished in May 2019. Paving and pavement markings will complete the project.
Morrison said the new bike lanes will start at Pelzer Street and cross the Shem Creek Bridge, which means there will be a bike lane all the way from Pherigo Street to Houston-Northcutt. On-street parking is to be added near Vincent Drive and Simmons Street.
According to Blythe Development Co. Project Manager Shane Gorry, the most difficult part of the Coleman Boulevard project will be relocating existing utilities.
“Coleman Boulevard is an urban corridor with a lot of underground utilities, including power, sewer, water, existing storm drainage, fiber optic lines and telephone lines,” he said. “Installing the new storm drainage and storm water treatment devices will involve a lot of coordination between the utility owners.”
He added that other challenges specific to Coleman Boulevard include safety issues on a heavily-traveled road; the fact that some of the storm drainage will be installed below sea level; and minimizing the impact to businesses along Coleman during construction.
“We’re doing our best to make it as least disruptive for our businesses as possible,” Morrison said.
Ed Barbee, the town’s construction liaison, is serving as the intermediary between Blythe Development Co. and businesses on Coleman, “to let them know our schedule and impact to their property, which has helped keep an open line of communication,” Gorry said. Barbee has an office on Fairmont Street.
Morrison pointed out that the town plans to post updates concerning the construction work on its website, “so people can understand it.”
“For example, we might say, ‘In the next two weeks, this is the activity you will see,’” he explained.
Another unrelated Coleman Boulevard project is currently in the surveying and preliminary engineering stage. At a cost of just over $5 million, a right turn lane will be added onto Coleman from Patriots Point Road, and there will be two left turn lanes, instead of one, from Coleman onto Patriots Point. In addition, turn lanes will be added on Magrath Darby Boulevard. The project is scheduled for completion in December 2020.