Planned Highway Expansion Would Cut Into Black Community in Charleston

The Biden administration's efforts to curb the tendency of highway expansions to cut into Black communities will be tested by the West I-526 Lowcountry Corridor plan in North Charleston, South Carolina.

September 9, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


The West I-526 Lowcountry Corridor is moving forward with plans to expand the roadway in South Carolina, seizing property in surrounding Black communities along the way.

"South Carolina is proposing to sweep aside dozens of homes, and potentially hundreds of people, to widen a freeway interchange choked with traffic in this booming coastal region," report Darryl Fears and John Muyskens. "The $3 billion project is expected to begin about two years after the plan becomes final."

Fears and Muyskens note that the West I-526 Lowcountry Corridor is moving forward despite vows by President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to undo the racist legacy of U.S. transportation infrastructure.

The West I-526 Lowcountry Corridor plan won't be the final highway expansion pursued at the expense of existing Black communities either.

If Charleston County has its way, the roadbuilding and housing destruction would not stop in North Charleston. In late August, officials unveiled a separate, $720 million plan for an expressway to begin near the expanded beltway and extend south to rural Johns Island and suburban James Island. Both places contain historic African American enclaves, where formerly enslaved people spread out from a nearby plantation in the 1870s.

The feature article includes interactive maps and graphics, as well as additional details about the history, politics, and consequences of transportation planning in the state and region.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in The Washington Post

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