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Highway 17: DOT asked to link all Pawleys traffic signals to new system

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A computer system that will control traffic signals along 1.8 miles of Highway 17 in the Pawleys Island business district may be expanded to include a new light due to go up in the Hagley area.

The “adaptive-reactive” signals are part of a $3.75 million project to replace the paved median between Baskervill Drive and Waverly Road with a raise median. The project will create designated left-turn and U-turn areas and add traffic signals in front of the post office and at the intersection with Hotel Drive and Jetty Drive.

“I’ve asked DOT if we can extend that,” said Mark Hoeweler, the senior staff member for the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study, which allocates funds for road improvements in the region. “That’s not a typical kind of DOT design.”

With Department of Transportation approval, the new signal at Tyson Drive and the entrance to the Pawleys Market shopping center would be linked with the signals in the project area. So would the existing signal at the South Causeway intersection and a signal that’s planned for the Petigru Drive/Allston Road intersection as part of redevelopment of Pawleys Island Plaza.

The signals use cameras to assess actual traffic conditions and adjust the timing. That means a light wouldn’t turn red on Highway 17 if there was no traffic waiting at a side street, Hoeweler explained. The signals now in use require the timing be preset. “That may be great for the a.m. peak, but not for the afternoon,” he said. “That can be a tricky balance.”

For the median project, the signals are intended to create gaps in the traffic flow along Highway 17 to allow left turns and U-turns. “The goal isn’t to keep the spigot wide open and flowing,” Hoeweler said, though it might be possible to make the trip between the seven traffic signals without stopping once they are connected to the system. “The goal is to keep traffic moving and create gaps.”

The Pawleys Island area will be one of the first in the state to use the adaptive-reactive signals, which are funded by a federal grant.

The median project is scheduled to go out for bid this month with work to start in the fall. DOT filed condemnation actions in July to acquire three parcels for the project.

The agency has offered Pobuckra Properties, owner of the Downtown Pawleys shops, $13,235 for 304 square feet at the intersection of Highway 17 and Professional Lane. That will allow right turns onto the highway from the side street.

Two parcels at the former Holiday Inn Express, now owned by Magnolia Hospitality of Hanahan, are needed for the project. DOT has offered $16,500 for a total of 1,044 square feet. That will allow right turns from Parkersville Road onto the highway and right turns from the highway onto Hotel Drive.

Hoeweller said he wasn’t aware of any other rights of way needed for the project.

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