Hwy 17 improvement project receives strong opposition

Litchfield Highway 17 improvement project

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) - Plans to improve a portion of busy Highway 17 is causing quite a stir. The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) will start the $2.5 million project to the roadway in Pawleys Island in the near future.

According to Brian Dix with SCDOT, the Highway 17 Median Consolidation project will improve the traffic flow and safety of Highway 17 in Pawleys Island. The plan calls for the installation of two new traffic lights and adding raised medians, but, not everyone in town seem to be onboard with those plans.

"We feel that with this road system it will impact businesses and the economy of Pawleys Island," explained David J. Gundling, a Pawleys Island business owner. He's been working wither others who are against the project to get SCDOT to make modifications. According to Gundling, he and others submitted a total of 900 signed petitions to SCDOT against the Highway 17 median consolidation project.

It may be too late for those against the road project. Dix says SCDOT's plans for the project are set. Last year the agency held meetings to get public comment. Based on comments received, the agency selected a plan. The project will impact a two mile stretch of US 17 from Waverly Road to Baskerville Drive. The new traffic signals will be along US Post Office and Lachicotte Drive and at Hotel Drive and Jetty Drive. SCDOT research shows the median improvements and new signals will address the conflict points created by the current two lane left turn lane.

Some locals are not convinced. "I think it will drastically affect Pawleys Island. I think some businesses will go out of business, and certain parcel of land won't be sold," said Steve Goggan, a local business owner.

John Devlin, owner of Cicada Got The Goods, a Pawleys Island specialty shop, agrees. He says the new raised medians will limit access to business. "The consumers are just going to keep going past and they're going to have to make u-turn after u-turn to get back into our parking lot," explained Devlin.

Gundling, Goggan and Devlin say are now in the process of forming a committee with others in the Pawleys Island community opposed to the current plans. They say they will to continue to push for changes to the project's plans. According to SCDOT, the agency plans to move forward with the project as is. Construction is expected to start in early 2014.

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