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Traffic: Counting cars changes view of roundabout plan

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

After spending a couple of afternoons watching school traffic, County Council Member John Thomas says he is no longer convinced that a roundabout is needed on Willbrook Boulevard. But he is willing to listen to those who are.

The county will take comments on a roundabout proposed for Willbrook Boulevard and Wildcat Way at a meeting today. “I’m open to all solutions at this point,” Thomas said.

He also met with county staff this week. “We may not have defined the problem well enough,” Thomas said. “I’m not sure what problem the roundabout is solving.”

Wildcat Way provides access to Waccamaw Intermediate and Waccamaw Middle schools, but access from Willbrook Boulevard is right-in, right-out. Traffic headed east to Highway 17 first has to go west to Reunion Drive. Drivers looking for shortcuts make U-turns at various points along Willbrook. “The whole thing is a safety issue,” said Frank D’Amato, president of the Tradition Property Owners Association.

Property owners groups in the Willbrook area have endorsed the concept. D’Amato said he’s open to any solution that will help control school traffic.

“I think roundabouts are a great idea,” Council Member Steve Goggans said. His firm, SGA Architecture, designed the two schools. When the intermediate school was built, a traffic engineer said left turns from Wildcat to Willbrook wouldn’t cause problems, he recalled. The roundabout might be “a solution without a problem,” Goggans said. “I want to make sure I understand that before we commit county resources.”

The county has budgeted $600,000 for the project, but thinks the actual cost may be closer to $300,000.

D’Amato said there are still area residents who would like to see the Wildcat Way access closed off and all school traffic routed to Reunion Drive. He has also talked with school officials who said they support the roundabout. He thinks parents do too.

“My goal for tomorrow night is to hear from the people who drop off and pick up kids,” Thomas said Wednesday. “What do they think the problem is?”

It’s possible that some of the traffic issues could be resolved by changes at the schools, he said.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Waccamaw Library.

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