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Highway 17: Engineers prepare three options for Pawleys median

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Results from small group meetings about plans to eliminate the paved median on Highway 17 in the Pawleys Island area were mixed. “People who lived in the corridor tend to be more in favor,” said Mark Hoeweler, planning director at Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments. “Those with businesses were more skeptical.”

The consultants who have worked on the project since it was first proposed in 2002 are now preparing three options for the corridor, which runs from Martin Luther King Road to the North Causeway/Waverly Road intersection. Those will be presented at a public meeting, which Hoeweler said should be scheduled within a month.

Among those who are skeptical of the project are members of Pawleys Island Town Council. The highway is outside the town limits, but the town takes an interest in projects along the corridor such as the Lowe’s store proposed for the South Causeway intersection (which it opposed) and highway landscaping (which it supports).

“I have a number of concerns,” Mayor Bill Otis said. “I can be convinced, but I have not yet been convinced.”

He was among those who met with the consultants from Stantec, an engineering firm. Otis told council members this week he came away with the idea that the whole project hinges on the location of new stoplights. There have been efforts in recent years to get a traffic signal in front of the Pawleys Island Post Office and at the Fresh Market. In both cases, the state Department of Transportation did studies and said conditions didn’t meet its criteria for stoplights.

“We haven’t got to the level of traffic signals,” Hoeweler said.

The length of the corridor would allow at least one and possibly two signals, he said. Those would have to be approved by DOT, but he said the corridor study and the median plan will provide more information than the agency typically receives when it studies traffic signals.

While the engineers are developing options to show the placement of median cuts that will allow left turns along the highway, the location of traffic signals will also take into account roads that run parallel to Highway 17, he said. Those provide local access to businesses along the highway.

“Spacing, getting everything in the right order, having organization to where the median breaks are” are all considerations, Hoeweler said.

Pawleys Island Town Council decided it would wait until more information is available before taking a position on the median project.

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