City of Charleston set to tear up Market Street as part of long-term drainage project

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The City of Charleston is planning to rip up both North and South Market Street as part of a project that aims at improving drainage in that area of downtown.

It’s expected to take between three and four years to complete, according to Matthew Fountain, the city’s director of stormwater management. In that time, crews will be tearing up the street in sections, so each cross street will be under construction for months at a time.

“We don’t want to shut the whole area down at the same time,” Fountain said. “That’s much more efficient from a project basis but obviously with something this important to the business community and this important to Charleston, we don’t have that option here. We have to be able to keep that market viable and minimize disruption.”

The project’s goal is to tackle flooding both at and below street level. In order to do that, crews will be adding a new collection system, curb inlets, and drains that will bring water into the underground systems. Crews will also work to improve the underground system of pipes.

As of right now, the project is in its permitting phase, one of its final steps. After permits are approved, the city will advertise for construction and take bids.

“We’re hoping to go to construction this year,” Fountain said. “Though it might be more realistic to plan for early 2020.”

The city is also looking at starting a task force with the dozens of businesses that set up shop in the market and have store fronts on the street.

“They [would] regularly meet to discuss what’s going on with the project, what the next phase is going to look like, [and] any problems that are occurring that we can address,” Fountain said.

He later added, the city wants to make the construction “as minimal a distraction as possible.”