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Highway 17: Left turn options decrease with median work

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The first concrete will be poured this weekend as the paved median on Highway 17 in the Pawleys Island business district disappears. It will be replaced by a raised median, some portions with landscaping.

The median, also known as a two-way left-turn lane, has been reduced to dirt in the area just north of the Waverly Road intersection. The work will continue north for 1.8 miles to Baskervill Drive. “It will start taking shape once they pour the concrete,” said Kit Scott, the project manager for the state Department of Transportation.

Left turns will be limited to 16 breaks in the raised median. Getting to some places along the highway will require drivers to make a U-turn. That’s already happening for southbound traffic trying to reach the Lachicotte Co. real estate office near the Waverly Road intersection. “You have to make a U-turn at Waverly or cut through the Walgreen’s parking lot,” said Chelsea Pieciak, who works in the rental department. “It’s frustrating.”

“We’re going to implement the left-turn lanes as we go through the project,” Scott said. “It will be abundantly clear.”

Orange construction barrels and signs will also mark places where left-turns are no longer allowed, she said.

Along with the median project, DOT is also managing drainage work along the highway that is funded by Georgetown County. That has been the most visible part of the project so far and it is ahead of schedule, Scott said. “We’re looking for a summertime completion of that,” she said.

The median project is scheduled for completion by Nov. 30. That work is being done at night so it won’t interfere with traffic.

Now that the work is under way in the median itself, residents “will wake up with something completely different on their drive to work,” Scott said.

As traffic increases with the start of the tourist season, the project will take some breaks. Those include Memorial Day and the bike weeks in Myrtle Beach. The construction breaks for those haven’t been decided, but for the Fourth of July, work will halt from June 26 through July 12, Scott said.

“There’s just so much traffic out there,” she said. “We don’t want to cause any issues.”

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