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Bike the Neck: County presses DOT to resume work on path

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The last time Myron and Sandy Skott bicycled through the Pawleys Island area was 10 years ago and they were promoting the East Coast Greenway, a bike route from Maine to Florida. “We were telling people it was 17 percent off-road,” Myron said. “Now, it’s 30 percent.”

Part of that 30 percent is still under construction along Waverly and Kings River roads, where there Skotts and their cycling companion Basil Campbell were joined by members of Bike the Neck for a short ride on Memorial Day. They weren’t disturbed by the construction, and not because it was a holiday.

Crews and equipment have been missing from the bike path for the last few weeks, prompting calls to Georgetown County from residents along the route.

“It’s annoying to property owners,” said Paul Battaglino, the county’s capital projects coordinator.

The $1.5 million project to extend the bike path from Willbrook Boulevard south to Waverly Road and east along Waverly to Waccamaw Elementary School is being managed by the state Department of Transportation. It’s a county project, but uses federal funds and complying with federal guidelines was more than the county was prepared to take on. “It’s complicated,” Battaglino said. “We’re having a hard time controlling it.”

The project isn’t due for completion until November. The work has moved fast enough for hopes to be raised that portions of the path through Willbrook and along Litchfield Country Club would be paved this spring. “They claim they’re ahead of schedule,” Battaglino said. “They want to do all the paving at one time. We would prefer to see them pave sections.”

Palmetto Corp., the contractor, is due to be back at work in June to grade and install the base for the path along Kings River Road to All Saints Church, Battaglino said. “We’re trying to urge them, through DOT, to get back on the job,” he said.

There is utility work that must be done along Waverly Road before the path can be built. There is also a bridge to be constructed over a tidal creek south of All Saints.

“It’s a very, very big costly project, but it’s the only way we can get the bike path in,” Battaglino said.

The Skotts and their companions were able to ride on the unpaved path alongside Kings River Road on Monday. They found other cyclists and some joggers out doing the same thing. “In some places, like here, it’s nice to be off the road,” Myron Skott said. “The big attraction to us is stopping and talking to people. You don’t meet people on the highway.”

The Skotts’ ride is 2014 Cabot Community Tour, sponsored by the Vermont dairy cooperative to raise awareness for volunteers. Along with the Bike the Neck volunteers, who have been working to create the bike path along Waccamaw Neck for 20 years, the tour met with volunteers from Friends of the Waccamaw Library in front of the branch library under construction on Willbrook Boulevard. The connection between the elementary school and the new library is one of the talking points of the current phase of the bike path.

“It’s much nicer than on the highway,” Skott said after completing the short ride. He, his wife and Campbell ride recumbent bikes which allow them to sit upright instead of bent over the handlebars.

“I got tired of the pain in my shoulders,” Skott said.

Since their 2004 trip, they’ve seen a change in attitude toward cyclists along the East Coast Greenway. “People are more courteous,” Myron said. “They’ll give you more space.”

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