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Traffic: County considers way around Willbrook Boulevard woes

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County is working on a plan to untangle a long-running traffic problem on Willbrook Boulevard with a roundabout, according to officials familiar with the project. It will allow school traffic from Wildcat Way to head east on Willbrook to Highway 17.

If constructed, it will be the second roundabout in the county. The state Department of Transportation built one at the Wachesaw Road-Old Kings Highway intersection in 2011.

There is currently a raised median on Willbrook Boulevard that prevents left turns. Traffic from Waccamaw Intermediate and Waccamaw Middle schools now has to head west to Reunion Drive before it can go east on Willbrook. Property owners in the communities within Willbrook Plantation raised objections to left-turn access from Wildcat Way when the school district began work on the intermediate school in 2007, saying it would reduce safety on Willbrook Boulevard.

Representatives of area property owners associations met with County Council members earlier this month and endorsed the roundabout concept. The association members asked not to be identified since they were not authorized to discuss the project.

County Council Member Bob Anderson said he couldn’t comment on the project, but said “we’ve got a less than desirable situation there.”

The opening of the new Waccamaw Library branch on Willbrook Boulevard will also increase the need for access. Its entrance will be from St. Paul Place next to the headquarters station for Midway Fire and Rescue, but it will also have a connection with the adjacent intermediate school.

Midway Fire Chief Doug Eggiman said they supplied the county with information about their vehicles to help with the roundabout design. He believes the roundabout will help. The department is concerned about traffic on St. Paul Place that could block emergency vehicles responding to calls.

Last spring, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office began ticketing drivers using the bus entrance from St. Paul Place to the intermediate school. “I finally decided it was time to do something,” Anderson said. He expects the solution to be rolled out before his term expires in January.

POA representatives said they were told the county has a design and the funds for the project. They believe a roundabout will reduce speeding on Willbrook Boulevard and curb illegal U-turns.

“I love it. I think it’s a great idea,” said Waccamaw Intermediate principal Tim Carnahan. “It will keep people from making every illegal move they can think of.”

Mark Hoeweler, assistant director of Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, got a cost estimate for a roundabout of $700,000 from DOT. “I don’t think it will be that much,” he said.

He also liked the concept. “It’s a safe way of dealing with those competing turns,” he said.

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