CCU receives funding to build median fence or barrier on Highway 544

CCU President, David DeCenzo presents in front of the Horry County Tranportation meeting. (Source:) Audrey Biesk
CCU President, David DeCenzo presents in front of the Horry County Tranportation meeting. (Source:) Audrey Biesk

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University is moving forward with a $1.1 million project all aimed at improving student safety while crossing Highway 544.

Dr. David DeCenzo, CCU's President, presented a plan in front of the Horry County Transportation Committee during Tuesday night's meeting asking for $300,000 to help fund the project.

The median fence, or barrier proposed for Highway 544 is to make sure students have no choice but to use a designated crosswalk to get on to campus. "Life is precious. We've had a couple students killed on 544 and had another one recently hit a year ago. It's something I can't keep going without doing something," said DeCenzo.

Stephen Tafaro is one CCU student who told WMBF News he has noticed the safety concern for students while trying to get to class from the housing complexes. "There is tons of traffic, I wait at this stoplight here for ten minutes, it's a really bad spot and they definitely need to do something about it. I think a fence would be a good idea, it would keep kids from trying to run across the road. I always see kids from the complex here running across with cars coming really close by, so I think if they built a fence it would keep kids from trying to cross. It would really help get students get to class on time and help protect their safety as well." Tafaro said.

DeCenzo said DOT is still designing what the fence will look like, but students are going to be blocked. He said, "Again, the whole idea is to funnel them to where it is the safest way to cross the street."

During the presentation, DeCenzo told the CTC it has taken a while to get phase one of the project together since DOT owns the road and it is an evacuation route. "We want something high enough that somebody can't jump over it, that's not to say you can build a 20 foot something and someone can scale it, but I can't stop somebody from doing something like that." DeCenzo, "Ultimately I am looking at this as phase one, phase two in the years ahead we may look at taking it all the way down to the shell station and the entrance to university place,"

DeCenzo said he wants to see work start Summer 2018. He said SCDOT has approved $300,000 to assist in the project and is waiting on final approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation and at that point all of the money will be in place to begin work.

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