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Petigru Drive: Neighbors want paving to end at park

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Neighbors of Stables Park told Georgetown County officials last week they don’t want their road paved.

“Leave our little quiet neighborhood alone,” said Ginger Pop, who lives on a cul-de-sac off Petigru Drive between the entrance to the park and Litchfield Country Club, during a meeting at Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center with residents to discuss road improvements.

Pop said paving Petigru between Martin Luther King Road and Aspen Loop will invite more traffic and the ills that it brings: litter, noise and crime.

Andy King, another resident of the neighborhood where owls can be heard at night, said drivers are speeding on the dirt road now. He said the problem will only get worse once it’s paved and becomes a back door to the country club.

Ray Funnye, county Public Works director, said paving Petigru from Martin Luther King Road to Aspen Loop will be in conjunction with intersection improvements at Petigru and Martin Luther King that have been approved through the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study. Funnye said county and state Department of Transportation officials walked the site to get a feel for the community and the environment. “We wanted to see what impact we would have on the community,” he said.

Pop said the road planners didn’t consider the neighbors’ feelings. “Did one day of walking in our neighborhood give you a sense of who we are and what we are about to make this kind of decision?” she asked. “We doubt it.”

No residents from the River Club, the neighborhood on the western side of the road, attended the meeting. Some there have expressed the same concerns about additional traffic. River Club residents erected a wooden fence along the edge of the Petigru’s right-of-way. Pop said her community couldn’t afford a fence.

“Access to Stables Park should come from Highway 17,” she said. “Originally, this was just a dirt path accessible by four-wheel drive. Why it has to be paved is beyond me. It’s working. The locals understand how to treat the road. People from outside this area coming to soccer tournaments and football tournaments need to come from Martin Luther King and turn on your new paved road and it should stop at the entrance to the park.”

Funnye said the dirt portion of Petigru Drive requires constant maintenance by county crews and paving will help contain costs. The county has a “local participation agreement” with DOT to perform the intersection and paving work. Mike Illes, the county’s capital projects manager, has been trained to be project engineer. “We have responsibility to make sure this project is designed and constructed properly under DOT standards and to make sure we do the right thing,” Funnye said.

While the county will manage the intersection and paving projects, it has hired the engineering firm Davis and Floyd to help obtain the permits. Petigru runs between some wetlands near the park’s entrance.

Tilley Bull, an engineer with Davis and Floyd, said Petigru Drive between Martin Luther King Road and the park’s entrance will be shifted east with several large trees being saved in a planted area that will divide the road’s lanes. The county’s portion of Petigru Drive begins about 1,000 feet from the intersection. Its travel lanes will transition from 12 feet to 11 feet with curvature to slow traffic. Drainage will run into the roadside swamp water ponds.

The travel lanes of Martin Luther King Road and Petigru Drive will be widened to 12 feet near the intersection with turn lanes and a 4-foot paved shoulder that could accommodate bicycle traffic, he said.

DOT has budgeted more than $600,000 for the intersection, and the county’s paving project is estimated at around $400,000. The state money will not be available until early 2017. Planning should be finished in three to four months and right-of-way acquisition will take about nine months, Bull said.

County Council Member Steve Goggans asked that the River Club fence be maintained or replaced and as many trees as possible be saved. Narrow lanes and a gentle curve between the park entrance and Aspen Loop could serve to slow the speed of traffic, he said.

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