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Highway 17: Grocery store traffic raises concerns for Hagley access

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Motorists on Tyson Drive were greeted with a state Department of Transportation message board Wednesday that said turning north onto Highway 17 was going to be difficult because their acceleration lane had been eliminated to accommodate southbound traffic entering Pawleys Market.

The warning, quick by DOT standards, comes a little late. There was a traffic accident there the day after Lowe’s Foods opened. Pawleys Market developers had offered to pay for a stoplight to avoid just such a situation.

“I was sending e-mails to DOT,” said Hagley Homeowners Association president Tom Stickler, “and they had already put an illuminated sign board on Tyson warning people that the ‘storage area’ northbound no longer exists. I would consider that rapid response from DOT. At least people aren’t going to get an unpleasant surprise.”

Stickler told DOT not to take too long studying the situation. It’s hazardous.

The best solution, he said, would be to install a stoplight, even though it has been denied.

“Tyson is so close to the existing stoplight at South Causeway it doesn’t meet the specs for distance between signals,” Stickler said, “and it’s too far apart to make it an offset intersection. It’s still possible to have a signal at each intersection as long as they are working off the same controller with a delay to allow traffic to move safely. As it is now, people are waiting a long time to go north.”

Stickler said he sent e-mails to Hagley residents suggesting they use Hagley Drive between Ace Hardware and the Elks Lodge where there’s a space in the median to turn northward on Highway 17. He said there’s a proposal to close the Highway 17 entrance to Pawleys Market to southbound traffic, using the existing light to route it down the South Causeway to a side entrance until the problem at Tyson is addressed.

County Council Member Jerry Oakely has passed complaints along to DOT as has county planner Boyd Johnson.

“It’s not a surprise,” Johnson said. “DOT refused a signal there, but you see them other places where they are timed properly. That’s the ideal solution from our perspective. It’s a matter of whether DOT will do it.”

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