Sunday, January 14, 2007

They Will Build, Road or Not

The Newsless Courier's lead article today on extending I-526 was timely. No one is more in tune than I to the build up of traffic east-bound to Mount Pleasant; however, no one is more sure that extending I-526 to Johns Island is the only viable option.

Read this description from a local real estate agency:

John's Island lies due west of the Charleston peninsula, serving as a "gateway" island for its more famous neighbors, Kiawah and Seabrook. Technically an island because it is surrounded by the Intracoastal Waterway, the Stono River, the Kiawah River and Bohicket Creek, John’s is protected from the ocean by the islands surrounding it.
A patchwork of natural waterways separated by farmland, residential property and commercial development, John's Island has always served as the agricultural heart of the area. In fact, much of the produce that distinguishes the unique flavors of Lowcountry Cuisine is grown on John's Island. Spinach, sweet corn, broccoli, collards, okra, melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, asparagus, blueberries and a variety of different lettuces, all make their way to the stove pots in homes and restaurants across the area.
John's Island is the largest tomato producer in the country, with a wide variety of different types of tomatoes suited to the area. Everything from the tried and true old faithful and heirloom varieties to the hot new designer varieties grow well in this Lowcountry climate. And Wadmalaw Sweet Onions, which are also grown on John’s Island, are said to rival Vidalia Onions for their sweetness and distinctive flavor.
In recent years, John's Island has not gone unnoticed by developers. With its diverse natural scenery and long stretches of ancient oaks, the island offers a quiet, country lifestyle in close proximity to the city of Charleston.

Not unnoticed by developers, tourists visiting Kiawah & Seabrook, and, in fact, natives of the Low Country.

I actually can remember Johns Island in the fifties because my mother taught home economics at the high school for a brief time. I remember the disgusting taste of the artesian-well water produced by its water fountains. As part of the curriculum, my mother visited the homes of the girls she taught. They were POOR; learning canning was a way to eat better, not an experiment in living close to nature. Later, when Charleston had too much rain and the tomatoes couldn't be shipped out, we had baskets of fantastic-tasting tomatoes sold by the side of the roads for practically nothing.

That world is gone and has been for a good, long time now. It's not coming back [and many people would say, thank goodness!]. The one that is coming will include very few farms so close to the coast and/or Charleston. Hey--there were pig farms in the New Jersey Meadowlands not sooo long ago--you could practically smell them from Manhattan. They're gone. New Jersey produced vegetables for New York City and Philadelphia. After all, why do you think it's called the Garden State? Now it's one of the most densely populated states in America. Not too many farms left, either.

Those who don't want to have I-526 extended--what is your alternative? There must be one, unless, of course, you look forward to sitting in gridlocked traffic as there is now on I-26 and Ashley Phosphate.

Not building roads is NOT an option; it's merely wishful thinking.

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