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Transportation: Online map lets residents become traffic engineers

Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

If you are among the hundreds of thousands of residents who didn’t show up to comment on a regional transportation plan at a series of meetings last week, take heart. An interactive map is available online where you can highlight traffic problems and propose a solution.

The Grand Strand Area Transportation Study is updating its plan through 2040. The study’s policy committee represents local governments in Georgetown County, Horry County and Brunswick County in North Carolina. It allocates state and federal funds to local projects.

An open house at the Murrells Inlet Community Center last week drew 15 people. They got a chance to select options for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, to recommend levels of access to major roads and to pick what the future streetscape should look like. It was one of four meetings. The largest turnout was about two dozen people.

Since then about 80 people have gone online to a WikiMap that allows them to highlight roads and intersections of concern and post comments.

Mark Hoeweler, senior staff member for the transportation study, was skeptical about the WikiMap concept. “I had to be sold on it,” he said. “It’s a great idea.”

Whitney Hills, president of Murrells Inlet 2020, which is developing a bike path plan and pedestrian crossings on Business 17, made her recommendations by placing stickers on charts at last week’s meeting. But she also got an introduction to the WikiMap. She said it was a great way to get input, one that her group might like to try.

Gary Weinreich, an inlet resident, told transportation planners at the meeting that he would like to see improvements to the streetscape along Business 17. He also looked at options for better separation between the bike lanes and car lanes.

Early users of the WikiMap have marked the Inlet to Intracoastal path Murrells Inlet 2020 is developing. They have also marked Business 17 for bike lane improvements. And there is a comment about congestion along Bypass 17 now extending beyond the tourist season.

Someone also drew a bike route around the Pawleys Island area that would loop onto the island itself via the causeways and run to Kings River Road. The last phase of the Bike the Neck route from Murrells Inlet to Georgetown is also shown.

The WikiMap allows people to comment on the various proposals. All of them will be collected as the transportation improvement plan moves forward with its long-range plan. “We’re a long way from anything being included in the 2040 TIP,” Hoeweler said. “We’ll take any kind of comment.

To view and comment on the WikiMap, go to gsats.org.

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