CCU requests traffic signals, crosswalk on Hwy 544 - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

CCU requests traffic signals, crosswalk on Hwy 544

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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University is working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation to ensure the safety of their students who traverse major roadways to and from class each day.

The university released a statement Wednesday to update the public and their students on the progress they've made in the conversation with traffic officials to make the commute safer. The announcement comes after CCU Freshman Elizabeth Gorshack was struck and killed on South Carolina Highway 544 in a hit and run accident.

Some, like CCU Graduate Student Christian Johnson say they have to dodge traffic almost everyday to get to class.

"I've come up with a strategy now," Johnson says. "As soon as the traffic isn't coming from a certain direction I hurry up and cross...it's dangerous."

CCU Sophomore Michael Alston says he walked past the accident scene shortly after Elizabeth Gorshack was struck and killed; a constant reminder to be cautious when crossing the road.

"You [have to] watch out because people are going way over [and] above the speed limit," Alston says. "It's crazy how people just don't slow down."

Coastal Carolina University Spokeswoman Martha Hunn says the safety improvements can't happen until the South Carolina Department of Transportation finishes a study designed to count the number of students who cross the road everyday.

"When that count is done, and that's a critically important part, the next step would be then, of course acquiring the funding for those road improvements," Hunn says.

Hunn says there is no timeline for when construction could begin on new traffic signals or crosswalks, but that university officials would like to see the safety improvements installed as quickly as possible.

The university's statement reads:

Coastal Carolina University administrators are working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation office in Florence and local SC legislators in seeking road improvements along SC 544 adjacent to the university. Specifically, CCU leaders have requested that a traffic signal, crosswalk and pedestrian timer be added to the intersection of SC 544 at Founders Drive, and that pedestrian timers be added at the University Boulevard and Jackson Bluff Road intersections. Jackson Bluff Road is located near University Place student residence halls.

"We've looked at a number of options and have begun a dialogue with the Florence office of SCDOT about the best ways of providing safety for pedestrians crossing the highway," said Eddie Dyer, CCU's chief operating officer. "The leadership provided by Senator Ray Cleary and Representative Liston Barfield in assisting us with this initiative has been invaluable, and we greatly appreciate it."

SCDOT is currently gathering data concerning pedestrians crossing the roadways at SC 544 and Founders Drive. The next step is to secure funding for the improvements. Once that occurs, engineering design will take place, with installation to follow. "If all goes well in the process, we hope to have these improvements in place very soon," Dyer said.

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