Group questions design of Pawleys Island median project

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. (WPDE) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation is moving forward with changes to Highway 17 in Pawleys Island. The project calls for more traffic signals and creating a raised median. A group is trying to get the plan revised.

Pawleys Island calls itself "arrogantly shabby" and its residents have a reputation of being resistant to anything that changes their identity.

"We think also this is gonna change the aesthetics of Pawleys Island considerably. We think a concrete median is not in character of keeping with the small shops, small businesses, small resort town aesthetic that is Pawleys Island," said Steve Goggans.

Goggans is a part of a group who sees a flaw in the DOT's design plan. It calls for two additional stop lights at Lachicotte Drive and at Jetty Drive. As well as a landscaped raised median through much of the town, greatly limiting left turns.

"I think it's going to be unsafe number one to have to make U turns other than making just a left turn into a business. And I think that that will cause issues with people not being able to make the turns or not wanting to make the U turns and they'll pass up businesses," added David Gundling.

The two men say businesses will suffer and many other agree with them. They have a traffic consultant studying the plan. They also started a petition that has garnered a lot of support.

"Over 110 businesses signed the petition, over 900 residents signed the petition and that list by the way has grown and is gonna continue to grow," said Goggans. "We are not trying to kill the project or kill the funding. We're merely trying to get the design reconsidered."

"We think there's enough momentum now and enough interest in the business community and the residents that don't want the median the way it's presently designed," Gundling shared.

At a public meeting concerning the project last April, SCDOT officials said from 2007 to 2011, the area averaged 3.4 car collisions per month, that's twice the statewide average for similar roads. Those numbers have led some to refer to the median the "suicide lane."

But Gundling disagrees with the characterization, "I've been here 20 years and have not been in involved in an accident in the 'suicide lane' nor have I seen one."

Construction of the $2.5 million project is set to begin early next year and will take about 12 to 18 months to complete. Both men say there's still time for their concerns to be addressed.

"First of all rights of way. Some pieces have not been acquired. Design changes can be made very easily. I'm an architect we make design changes all the time. So there's plenty of time to make changes to the project," explained Goggans.