Late last night, City of Charleston Chief of Police Luther Reynolds sent us this letter he wrote specifically for Daniel Island residents and asked we share it with all of you. Thank you for your continued patience and support during this time.
Fellow DI Residents,
I am writing to say hello and offer a brief perspective on the Wando Bridge challenges and related impacts we have all been experiencing. I have been in policing for over 29 years, significant portions of that time running major events, details, operations, and event coordination. The most difficult and significant component – resulting in the most safety issues, costs, and at times, complaints – is always related to traffic congestion and traffic related safety issues. Traffic collisions, by far, is where our communities experience the largest numbers of deaths and injuries, and all have one thing in common: They are preventable. As such, our region has approached this bridge closure with safety as our highest priority while being hypersensitive of the serious consequences this is having on families, economic vitality, quality of life, schools, shopping, church, etc.
As a new leader in the Lowcountry region, I have been impressed with the level of coordination, collaboration, sharing of resources, ideas, solutions and strategies, and genuine focus on mitigating the impacts on our residents. To say this has had a profound impact would be an understatement. I and many other leaders have been extensively present and involved in the multi-pronged approaches since Monday afternoon when the decision was made by SCDOT to close the bridge. All area jurisdictions have been closely connected and communicating since then and will continue through June 11th or whenever the bridge is reopened and is operating safely and normally.
Among the many partners in the same room (this is an abbreviated list) are Police/Fire Chiefs, respective commands, Mayors, Emergency Managers, and transportation experts from Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston, State Highway Patrol, Charleston County Sheriffs, SCDOT and many others. There has been a sense of urgency and related commitment to change, solutions, and better outcomes since the beginning, and this will continue until we are done. Our experts have reviewed traffic signalizations/timing/adjustment issues, lane modifications, message boards, public announcements, social media, alternative transportation solutions to include CARTA, and a variety of other technology approaches. Each day we have held conference calls, meetings, and extensive discussions on what was working, what was not, what needed adjustments, and areas for improvement. Not one single time have I heard a particular resource would be the limitation; every agency has offered and provided resources to make tweaks and adjustments in various areas of the region. Our sole focus has consistently been how to make improvements (sometimes much easier said than done). With traffic, we often can make an adjustment in one area which makes other areas worse, thus the need for close communication, careful strategy, and coordination among regional partners.
Despite the significant impacts on all jurisdictions, we have made some progress on mitigating some of the traffic problems. Beginning this Sunday, May 20, at 2:00 pm our SCDOT partners, who have bent over backwards to communicate with us and support our region, are opening the operational span of the eastbound Wando Bridge to one lane of traffic in both directions. This will slow the speed to 45 MPH and pinch the existing lanes to one in each direction. As with all the other solutions which have been implemented, it takes everyone’s vigilance and patience as we adjust our commute times, patterns, modalities, and attitudes. We collectively believe this will provide some net relief and that all our strategies together will get our region to experience more normalcy. I urge everyone travelling the modified bridge to be especially careful not to text while driving, not to drink and drive, not to be distracted while driving, and to be courteous to other drivers who will need time to adjust to these new patterns.
Speaking as a regional leader and member of Mayor Tecklenburg’s team and as the Charleston Police Chief, I can say with absolute certainty that we will continue working selflessly and actively toward solutions in this area and many others to improve this situation and your quality of life in general. I am grateful to be a member of your community and appreciate your patience and sacrifice during this time of great inconvenience. We have much empathy for the impact this continues to have on you and also appreciate the many lessons we are learning as a region as we continue to work through emergency planning and building relationships and strategies to better equip and prepare us for effectively leading through future significant challenges.
I encourage everyone to stay connected to DINA and the POA and continue monitoring local media and SCDOT’s website for specific and ongoing updates. With much respect and appreciation for your partnership as we lead through this together