Although Mayor John Tecklenburg cited “all kinds of initiatives” to manage the city’s flooding crisis, in comments at the Harleston Village Association’s annual meeting Monday, the many residents’ questions that followed reflected continued anxiety about the coming storm season and uncertainty about the security of their homes.
Reiterating that flooding is his oft-mentioned Agenda Item Number One, the mayor reviewed a familiar list of mega projects under way in various stages. There was a little edification, including:
* Reconstruction of the Low Battery wall will begin at end of Tradd Street near the Coast Guard Station, because that section of the sea wall has badly deteriorated. The city has about $30 million of the $100 million full project cost. There is still no plan for Lockwood Drive;
* The city will soon purchase a site on northern St. Phillips Street, for the down shaft of the Calhoun West tunnel project. This longterm (10-12 years) project, aimed at protecting the west side of the Peninsula from the Coast Guard Station to the Citadel, has neither funding, nor completed engineering. The mayor acknowledged that he will have to find the money for it;
* The Dutch Dialogues between engineers from Charleston and Holland are under way. The nearly $400,000 consultation is a private-public partnership, with the city picking up $185,000. The engineers will focus on three diverse areas of the city: Urban, including most of Harleston Village from the Coast Guard to the Citadel, Suburban, the Church Creek area of West Ashley, and Rural, Johns Island. The Dutch will “hone our plans,” the mayor said. The dialogues will culminate in a five-day intensive interchange between the Dutch and Charleston engineers in Charleston in November;
* Several check valves have been installed, the newest soon to be at Beaufain Street and Lockwood Road;
* Some 80 percent of Charleston’s roads are South Carolina state roads, the mayor noted.The governor last week promised a “vulnerability study” to determine how they will be affected by sea level rise. The mayor said he would apply for State Infrastructure Bank funds for road maintenance;
* The city is “two weeks away” from hiring a grant writer.
Residents were left wondering how the substantial Sgt. Jasper project would affect its flood-vulnerable neighbors, why the city has not obtained more grant money, whether regional flood-mitigation efforts were under way, and how to contain destructive, heavy-footed drivers who create foot-high wakes as they speed through flooded streets.