Lowcountry Rapid Transit project gets green light to initiate New Starts project development

Oct. 9, 2019
The approval from FTA makes the proposed 26-mile BRT line eligible for federal funding through the CIG program.

The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG) has been approved by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to initiate project development for the Lowcountry Rapid Transit (LCRT) project, South Carolina’s first mass transit project.

The project aims to construct a 26-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line along US 78 and US 52 between Summerville and Charleston, S.C. In its New Starts Project Development Information sheet available through FTA, BCDCOG believes the purpose of the project is to improve connectivity and mobility, and provide additional transit alternatives in the congested corridor, while supporting local land use plans that call for the expansion of transit services in the absence of the ability to increase capacity on local roadways. With the $387.5-million project’s approval to initiate development, it becomes eligible to receive funding through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program, but BCDCOG has not finalized the amount of money it will seek.

“Receiving preauthorization to enter the project development phase is another huge step forward in making LCRT a reality in our region,” said Ron Mitchum, the BCDCOG’s executive director. “This step opens critical funding streams and puts us in position to continue generating forward momentum and progress on the project.”

The project includes upgrades to the existing maintenance and storage facilities, adding BRT stations and articulated electric vehicles.

“LCRT is a network of possibilities that will provide residents with dependable, frequent transportation and greater access to opportunities throughout the region,” said Sharon Hollis, the BCDCOG’s principal planner and LCRT project lead. “Connections between communities and employment centers would be enhanced and would also accommodate other modes such as biking and walking.”

BCDCOG says it plans to have a locally preferred alternative selected by August 2020 followed by its adoption into the long-range transportation plan by January 2021. Revenue service on LCRT is expected to begin in late 2025.

“Being able to adjust to the rapid growth in our region is important when we consider mobility as a key factor in the expansion,” said Mitchum. “BCDCOG is very excited for this advancement in the LCRT process and is ready to improve not just transit for our residents and visitors in the Tricounty area, but their quality of life as well.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.