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Roads: Paving will open new options for local traffic

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Residents of Litchfield Country Club told Georgetown County officials they were concerned that paving Petigru Drive will bring more traffic to their neighborhood during a public information session for the upgraded intersection at Petigru and Martin Luther King Road Wednesday evening at the Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center.

The proposal combines a state Department of Transportation project to add turn lanes at Martin Luther King and Petigru and pave a .2-mile portion of Petigru with a county project to pave the remaining half-mile dirt road to Aspen Loop at Litchfield Country Club.

Right-of-way acquisition to widen the roads is expected to take about 11 months, and bids are scheduled to be let next January. Completion of the project is expected in the fall of 2017, according to Ray Funnye, the county director of Public Services.

Tilley Bull of the engineering firm of Davis and Floyd said the state portion of Petigru will have 12-foot traffic lanes with 4-foot shoulders. The county’s portion will have 11-foot travel lanes with 4-foot shoulders. Two large oaks in the state’s portion of Petigru will be preserved with a raised median that splits the north and southbound lanes.

Ed Quillian of Litchfield Country Club said residents are worried that the paving of Petigru will invite more traffic from Kings River Road. “Our concern is a tremendous amount of traffic coming through our neighborhood,” he said. “The 25 mile per hour speed limit is not being enforced.”

Quillian asked if a traffic study had been done to estimate the impact on the country club.

County Administrator Sel Hemingway said a traffic study, while expensive, wouldn’t reveal how many drivers would choose to cut through the county club. Hemingway said he would expect more country club residents would exit on Petigru and use the signalized intersection at Highway 17 and Martin Luther King. “I don’t know why I’d cut through the country club and come out an an unsignalized intersection when I can go on Martin Luther King to a signal,” he said.

Tom Leis of River Club said there are houses within 5 feet of the dirt portion of Petigru. He said he had talked with county officials about moving the road away from the fence protecting those houses. While he had not been promised that would be done, he said he’d be disappointed if the county didn’t do that. He said a truck came out of Stables Park and ran through the fence, stopping just feet from a house.

Hemingway said the county would make every effort to move the road away from the fence when county property is concerned. He said county employees will drive stakes along the dirt portion of Petigru as soon as possible to indicate where the pavement is planned.

Lane Trousdale of River Club asked that the county do more than consider moving the road from the fence. “Walk it,” she said, “and see how close the road is to the fence. Move away from our fence for the safety of drivers and the safety of people who live in those houses.”

James Linnen, a resident of Martin Luther King Road, said his road has become a “race track” and is not safe for walkers. He asked that sidewalks be built along the road.

County Council Member Steve Goggans said he campaigned on a platform of building more sidewalks, and Martin Luther King Road was his top priority. “That street needs a sidewalk more than any other in the county,” he said. He said the county is about to engage on a sidewalk master plan and start seeking funds. “I can’t promise it will be next year,” Goggans said, “but it will be in the process.”

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