MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Crosswalks are coming to the busy marshwalk area of Murrells Inlet and businesses are contributing funds for them.
"It's in everyone's best interest," said John Campbell, managing partner of Dead Dog Saloon and The Claw House.
Murrells Inlet 2020 did a survey within the last couple of years of people living, working or visiting the area, said Linda Lane That survey received an overwhelming response to pedestrian safety, care and keeping of existing bike lanes, and additional multi-purpose paths.
Lane said MI2020, along with the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the Georgetown County Council, came up with a plan to put crosswalks in along the marshwalk section of U.S. 17 Business.
The four crosswalks will be painted onto the street and they'll have signs nearby to alert drivers, Lane said. Those are expected to be completed by Easter.
The bike lanes will also be restriped to better define them. However, that won't be completed until a current dredging project is finished, according to Lane.
Georgetown County is paying $50,000 for the project and SCDOT will reimburse the county through a grant. MI2020 was then responsible for the rest of the cost, about $7,000, Lane said. Marshwalk businesses helped fund the majority of that.
"All of the businesses realized it's about the safety of people that visit our area," said Chad Seasor, accountant for Lazy Gator. "It just seemed like a good idea and everyone agreed."
The businesses that contributed include Dead Dog Saloon, The Claw House, Bovine's Restaurant, Wahoo's Raw Bar & Marina, The Lazy Gator, Express Watersports, Creek Ratz of Murrells Inlet, Capt. Dave's Dockside, Drunken Jack's Restaurant and Lounge, and Banton Media.
"We have issues with cars turning and people using the bike path to go around other cars," Seasor said.
Many marshwalk visitors park in overflow lots across U.S. 17 Business from the restaurants. Leigh Ann Wheeler died in May 2009 while crossing the road. Her photograph still hangs on the wall in Dead Dog Saloon.
"It's unfortunate that these sort of situations require something to happen for action to be taken," Campbell said. "It's obvious there's a hazard here."
Campbell said previous efforts to improve pedestrian safety had failed.
"We've wanted them to reduce the speed limit, but that's something they can't do," he said. "We've wanted to do raised crosswalks to slow the traffic down, but because there's the fire department, the emergency vehicles need to be able to quickly get where they're going so they wouldn't do that."
He said the businesses were happy to help.
Murrells Inlet 2020 is also looking to eventually improve lighting in the area, Lane said.