WPDE investigates why Pawleys Island intersection continues to cause problems

Photo of the wreck on July 7 at the intersection near the new Lowes Foods. Photo courtesy of Nancy Crawford.

Four people were sent to the hospital Monday after the second wreck in a month took place at an intersection in Pawleys Island, and the South Carolina Department of Transportation says it is still deciding what to do to fix the ongoing problems with that area.

The intersection is in front of the new Lowes Foods on Ocean Highway, and residents told WPDE shortly after the store opened that the removal of a median was causing problems for drivers who now had to cross multiple lanes of traffic in one shot.

The first wreck happened on June 6, when a driver was pulling out of the parking lot and was hit. No one was injured in that wreck.

Michael Bethea, a traffic engineer with SCDOT, said after that wreck, the department had gotten calls about problems with the area and were counting cars and surveying to see if it met the requirements for a traffic light.

A sign was then put up by the DOT warning drivers of the median removal, but another wreck, this one a bit more serious, happened on July 7.

Drivers say the area is still very dangerous, despite the new signage.

"It's scary. They're going from 60 miles an hour, and you're trying to look both ways, and like I say, you can't just pull out because there's so much traffic," said Patricia Wolfen, who lives nearby.

And Jim Macgillis, said he's surprised that there haven't been more than two wrecks at that intersection.

"I'm surprised that we don't have more accidents than we do, because it is dangerous," he said.

Bethea said on Tuesday, more than a month since WPDE first spoke with him, that the DOT was still gathering data and no solution had been settled on for the intersection.

He said the department is aware of the wrecks and is studying them as traffic engineers work to come up with a solution.

"In looking at the accidents, we also look at the type of accident. Is it a right angle accident? Is it a rear-end accident? Whatever we recommend, is that a solution to these accidents? Will that decrease accidents? Sometimes it increases accidents," he said.

He said the wrecks will factor into what the DOT decides to do about the intersection, but that there is still no timeline for when a decision will be made.