Island Vibes May 2024

t’s going to be a long road ahead to get Palm Boulevard into shape – but efforts are now underway. On April 2, Isle of Palms’ Public Safety Committee discussed preliminary concepts for improving parking, crosswalks and pedestrian infrastructure on this main thoroughfare between 21st and 41st streets running parallel to the island’s southern shore beaches. And while previous ideas for Palm Boulevard proved unfeasible, city leaders are hoping that this time all the factors will come together to eventually make for a better and safer road. “But we are a long way right now from this becoming a reality,” Mayor Phillip Pounds acknowledged. City administrator Desirée Fragoso added that any action will probably require different phases, long-range planning and substantial funding. 3 NEWS Palm Boulevard improvements expected to take ‘multiple years’ By L. C. Leach III I “Once this project is conceptualized, the city could pursue federal and state government funding,” Fragoso said. Currently, there are six potential concepts drawn up by the South Carolina Department of Transportation for both city leaders and the public to consider. Ideas so far include: • Front-angled parking on both sides of Palm Boulevard, with grass buffers • Angled parking on one side of the roadway with parallel parking on the other, with grass buffers • An additional sidewalk on the ocean side • A shared-use path on the ocean side only • Shared-use paths on both sides of the roadway • Two bike lanes, one on either side of the roadway Fragoso noted that putting in the bike lanes along Palm Boulevard “was one of the main drivers of this process.” All six designs involve keeping as many existing palm trees as possible and adding new ones depending on the design chosen. Councilwoman Jan Anderson is currently favoring what is known as Concept 1A because of the addition of “bike lanes adjacent to the travelway.” “But I am open-minded to other ideas as they come up because the project right now is only at the concept stage,” Anderson said. Public Safety Committee chairman John Bogosian commented that Plan 1A is so far the best option for “getting an emergency vehicle down a very crowded Palm Boulevard during the summer.” He added, “These concepts are ideas on how to make Palm Boulevard look better than it currently does.” Concept 1A is one of six current preliminary plans drawn up by SCDOT for both Isle of Palms city leaders and the public to consider as alternatives to improve Palm Boulevard. Recognizing that whichever one of these concepts that is chosen will involve major discussions and options, Fragoso, Anderson and Pounds all stressed that the city will want to seek public comment on a preferred option/concept before a final decision is made. “Next steps, at that point, would include a lot of engineering, surveying and an attempt to work with SCDOT to identify funding opportunities for what would be a major project – a significantly expensive project,” Fragoso said. Fragoso also pointed out that any improvements to Palm Boulevard regarding the SCDOT concepts and any others that could be introduced will need to incorporate drainage improvements to pipe sections of open ditch along the road. “An implementation of something of this magnitude, for 20 blocks of road, would take multiple years,” Fragoso elaborated. “So there’s a lot to be done.” Photo Provided.