Saturday, May 09, 2009

Eugene Platt, Charleston (SC) Greens fight Interstate expansion

In a letter published in the Charleston Post and Courier, Green Party spokesperson Eugene Platt called for an end to plans to extend Interstate 526 onto Johns and James Islands.

Platt, an elected member of the James Island Public Service District Commission, pointed to a resolution against the proposed extension passed unanimously by the Town of James Island Council on April 7 as evidence that the communities most impacted by this proposed road are united in their opposition to the project. The complete text of his letter can be read below.

April 20, 2009

By Eugene Platt
Reprinted from the Post and Courier

The Town of James Island Council on April 7 voted unanimously to oppose the extension of I-526. In doing so, it aligned itself with the James Island Public Service District Commission, which on several previous occasions had taken similar positions. Thus, both governmental bodies composed exclusively of, and elected by, residents of James Island have made clear the majority sentiment of our community.

All the arguments for and against the extension of I-526 have been well publicized. There is no need to repeat them here. Let it suffice to say, if the American tradition of representative democracy is honored in this instance, then the April 7 vote should eventually prove to be a watershed event, a turning point in a long, arduous, often frustrating struggle to preserve what precious little is left of our heritage.

One of the 10 key values the Green Party endorses is the concept of “grassroots democracy.” (See Accordingly, we salute both the James Island Town Council and Public Service District Commission, as well as all the citizens who made their preferences, both pro and con, known to their elected representatives. The people have spoken; long live the people.

Charleston Green Party
Member, James Island PSD
Gilmore Court

Public opposition to the plan has been growing. In meetings last Fall, Josh Martin, the Coastal Conservation League's land use director, noted that:
"All 526 is doing is just shifting and moving traffic around. It's not untangling the knots," says Martin. "Places like Seattle, Chattanooga, and Boston are tearing these structures down. Do we want to be the last municipality to implement 1970s infrastructure? Why not create places versus destroying places? That's what all these massive infrastructure projects are — they destroy places and rip communities apart."

The SCDOT has proposed 21 different expansion options for I526, including the option of making no change. One alternate proposal comes from the Coastal Conservation League. Their "New Way To Work", which would not extend the highway, and instead attempt to build decentralized transportation patterns, lessening the burden on main roads. Several local organizations, including the Wesley United Methodist Church, Johns Island Preservation Coalition, Coastal Conservation League, Johns Island Rural Transportation Alliance, and the Committee on Better Racial Assurance (COBRA) have come together to create Concerned Citizens of the Sea Islands, which sponsors a website:

With the vote against sprawl by the Town of James Island Council and the continuing support of elected officials like Platt, there may be green shoots of grassroots democracy in Charleston County.

Adapted from a post to Green Party Watch:


*Eugene Platt's website
*The Coastal Conservation League's "A New Way To Work" Plan
*"James Island Council opposes I-526 Project". Post & Courier, April 8, 2009.
*Green Party of the US

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