CHARLESTON, S.C. (NCC News) — Charleston, South Carolina has recently been named America’s number one small city by Condé Nast Traveler magazine for the 10th year in a row. Known around the nation as a small city with lots of southern charm, but long time residents say the area is experiencing big city problems. For many Charleston residents and commuters, like Sandy Miller, the traffic issues that have developed are one of the biggest issues facing the area right now.
“It’s terrible because when you’re ready to get home – you’ve worked an eight, nine-hour day…sometimes 10-hour days – the last thing you want to do is sit in an hour and a half worth of traffic,” Sandy Miller said.
It is no surprise that Charleston’s roadways are bumper to bumper these days. The city is growing – with industries and companies such as Boeing, Volvo, Amazon, and increased air travel at the Charleston International Airport – all of this growth comes with plenty of growing pains.
According to the United States Census Bureau, approximately one-third of Charleston commuters are coming from surrounding suburban areas. That means that roughly over 100,000 cars per day are coming to the Charleston metropolitan area that do not reside in the city of Charleston.
There have been all sorts of plans for infrastructure improvements, from extending local freeways to adding additional lanes in consistently congested areas. Tom Stokes, general manager of a Charleston construction company, says the delay for these improvements mainly comes down to one reason.
“Well the number one reason is going to be funding,” Tom Stoke said. “That’s automatic. You know, infrastructure always follows behind growth – it doesn’t go the other way around.”
Regardless, residents of the Charleston metro area say something has to be done. Charleston isn’t quite the southern city with cobblestone roads anymore – and that’s making some feel like it’s not the home they have always known.
“It doesn’t feel like the same place and I would love to have my small Charleston back,” Sandy Miller said.