Barricades being removed near Shetland Lane off U.S. 17 Bypass - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Barricades being removed near Shetland Lane off U.S. 17 Bypass

(Source: Raycom Media) (Source: Raycom Media)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Motorists who have traveled down the U.S. 17 Bypass near Shetland Lane the last several weeks have no doubt come across a lot of orange barricades.  By Tuesday afternoon, those barricades will be gone.

What was once a median-cut, known as 'the intersection' to most, at Shetland Lane and U.S. 17 is now filled.  The median-cut was the site of numerous accidents throughout the years.  Two fatalities occurred in 2015 accidents there.  

South Carolina Department of Transportation decided it would be best to close the intersection permanently. However area businesses and neighborhoods were hoping for a stoplight and not a permanent closure.   The closure forces people to drive about a mile down the road to Harrelson Boulevard or Farrow Parkway to turn around.  Or, take an illegal U Turn to get to the other side of 17 and use Shetland Drive.
By February a petition with almost 1,200 signatures to build a stoplight was presented to officials. 

Local and restaurant worker Chris Marden says the department of transportation didn't work with people who live in the area to see what's best for them. "We tried to get petitions and see what we could do to get a light...and never really had them work with us, or talk to us, or anything like that –they just bulldozed through with what they wanted to do."

David Zeppiero, a loyal customer to the restaurant, also said he thinks a stoplight at the intersection is a better idea. "These cars are doing 60 miles per hour, I think a light would be advantageous."

But that's exactly why SCDOT says a light will not work.  DOT's chief traffic engineer said it's a common misconception to think traffic lights will decrease traffic accidents.  He said inserting stoplights on road ways where cars travel at high speeds, like they do on Highway 17, doesn't decrease traffic accidents. 

But the closure does decrease business in the area.  Chris Marden said Joe's Airport Diner lost 45% of its business when the median-cut closed.  Business has gone back up some, but hasn't recovered.  He said the diner has survived simply by letting area residents know they're there.  Right now, drivers must turn around at Farrow Parkway or make an illegal U Turn to get to Shetland Drive.

However, the government has a road extension in the works to improve the problem.  A project was proposed last year to extend Fred Nash Boulevard to Harrelson Boulevard.  Myrtle beach spokesman Mark Kruea says the money is available under Ride III. The project would widen and extend Fred Nash Boulevard around the west end of the Myrtle Beach International Airport runway and run parallel to US 17.  Then it would connect with Harrelson Boulevard, most likely at Seaboard Street or Grissom Parkway.  This way you could drive from Harrelson to Farrow Parkway and back without getting on U.S. 17.

The project will be voted on in November.

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