042717 Highway 17: County takes bids from caregivers for ’orphan median’
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Highway 17: County takes bids from caregivers for ’orphan median’


By Charles Swenson
COASTAL OBSERVER

Georgetown County adopted the orphaned landscape in the raised median of Highway 17 in the Pawleys Island business district this spring. Now it is looking for a permanent caretaker.

A landscape contractor for the county Parks and Recreation Department this month began weeding and picking up debris in the raised median, where a maintenance contract from the state Department of Transportation ran out in December. The work will be paid for with revenue from the county’s local accommodations tax, County Administrator Sel Hemingway said.

The county will open bids next week from contractors who would take over the maintenance on a one-year contract starting in June.

County Council Member Steve Goggans, who led a group opposed to the median project before being elected to council, said he was pleased with the decision to take over the maintenance. “The section nearest my office had some issues,” he said. “Somebody has done some grooming. I think it does look good”

The raised median was installed under a DOT contract in 2015 along 1.9 miles of Highway 17 from Baskervill Drive to Waverly Road. It replaced a two-way, left-turn lane.

Waccamaw Landscaping, which planted and maintained the median for DOT, estimated the cost of annual maintenance at $20,000. The county helps fund several Highway 17 beautification projects through grants of state accommodations tax funds. Hemingway is trying to come up with a base cost for those projects to allow more uniform funding.

The Litchfield Beautification Foundation, which maintains 3.8 miles of highway median, received an accommodations tax grant to cover the portion of raised median plantings between Martin Luther King Road and Baskervill Drive. “It’s a scary place to clean,” said Vonne Pannucci, a foundation board member. Waccamaw Landscaping does the work for the foundation.

While the Litchfield median gets daily litter pickup, the county proposal for the raised median calls for weekly pickups, along with other maintenance, from April through October. The rest of the year, work will be done twice a month.

“This project could set the base” for future county funding of highway landscaping, Goggans said. “I’d like to see some group adopt that section and get involved with it.”

Community groups have been leery of taking on the job without a guarantee of funding from the county. That’s what a base funding formula is supposed to resolve. “We’re making progress,”Goggans said.

The $3.4 million median project received an Engineering Excellence in Transportation Award from the state chapter of the American Council of Engineers this month. It was designed by Stantec and cited as the first project to combine median consolidation with adaptive traffic signals, which were funded through a federal grant to the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study.

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