CCU officials present plans for $7.5 million pedestrian walkway to state lawmakers

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:00 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:09 PM EST
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina students often cross Highway 544 to get to and from campus.

“There’s a lot of traffic, it’s always really busy, and there’s also a ton of, I would say, not the best drivers,” said CCU student Victoria Kyriakopoulos.

Like many other students, Kyriakopoulos lives across the highway, forcing her to cross it multiple times daily.

But, several years ago, the dangerous trek to campus cost two students their lives. This prompted the administration to act.

University officials are asking for $7.5 million in funds to build a pedestrian walkway over the highway.

“Our goal, more than anything, is to reduce incidents that impact our students in the way of safety,” said Overton. “Student death is not anything that we ever want to be able to see as part of our campus.”

Although the request for the walkway was recent, this isn’t the first time the university has brainstormed solutions to protect students from heavy traffic. The work started in 2016 with ideas like reducing the speed limit and adding a center median.

“More than zero is a problem for us,” said Travis Overton, the university’s vice president for executive initiatives about the student deaths related to crossing Highway 544.

Students also like the idea of a pedestrian walkway.

“I think it would make things so much easier, and especially for those people who don’t have cars,” said CCU student Kennedy Manning.

If the funds are approved as part of the state’s budget, Overton said more specifics will begin to fall into place, such as exactly where the walkway would go and how long construction would take.

“There are a lot of puzzle pieces that come along with it,” said Overton. “An estimate can range anywhere from three to five to seven years when working to look at a project, particularly in a project like this, when thinking about that parts of the road are not owned by the university.”

The request has been presented to the South Carolina House’s Ways and Means Committee.

The ultimate goal is to have the walkway established as a part of the state’s final budget for the next fiscal year.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.