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Highway 17: Median plan opponents make appeal to county

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The Pawleys Island business community decided it was time for a “Hail Mary” play to try and alter plans to eliminate the paved median on Highway 17 between Waverly Road and Baskervill Drive.

Wyndell Peacock, Steve Goggans, Mickey Stikas, Brian Bayliff and David Gundling asked members of Georgetown County Council Tuesday to put a discussion of the project on their agenda next month. Their goal is a resolution from County Council to appoint a task force to devise a new plan.

Most said they did not have an opportunity to voice their objections to eliminating the turning lane — and the opportunity for potential customers to turn both left and right off Highway 17 into their parking lots. The plan, already funded with $2.5 million and in the design phase, calls for construction of a raised concrete and landscaped median between the north- and south-bound lanes with the goal of maintaining the flow of traffic.

“It’s wrong,” Gundling said, “to be more worried about people traveling from Myrtle Beach to Charleston than the local people.”

He said 850 people, along with operators of 120 businesses, have signed a petition opposed to the changes on Highway 17.

“There’s a better way to handle the matter,” Gundling said.

Goggans said the speakers’ goal was not to stop the project but to discuss the issues. The flaw, he said, is that it totally compromises the idea of inner-connectivity between Highway 17 and other parallel roads that could relieve traffic flow. The plan, as proposed, provides 10 U-turn gaps in the median and additional stoplights at U.S. Post Office-Lachicotte Drive and Hotel Drive-Jetty Drive.

Goggans said it was ludicrus to design U-turns on a busy highway as a means of turning left.

Bayliff, operator of Sonic on Highway 17, said U-turns are dangerous.

“People are not going to be able to navigate the U-turns,” Stikas said, “and it’s going to lead to reduced sales tax collections and falling property values.” He said two commercial projects in the Pawleys Island area have been cancelled in the study stages because of the median plan.

Norman Reid, representing the Pawleys Island Civic Club, said he supported reconsideration of the median because it blocks a left turn from Highway 17 onto Parkersville Road, the location of two churches, a magistrate’s office and a new community center.

Reid said he supports the proposal of an additional 1-cent sales tax in the county and the plan to widen Parkersville Road with some of the funds. He came Tuesday to ask for consideration of a sidewalk along Parkersville Road because of the potentially increased traffic.

Leah Quattlebaum, program manager for the S.C. Department of Transportation, has said the agency will set up meetings with anyone with concerns about the project. The design, she said, is not final.

Gundling e-mailed Quattlebaum after Tuesday’s meeting, trying to arrange a meeting. “I know you agreed to meet to discuss the project on a section-by-section basis,” his e-mail said, “but the concerned individuals are more interested in working on a global solution in everyone’s best interests.”

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