Thursday, July 17, 2014
An intersection at the new Lowes Foods in Pawleys Island – the site of three car wrecks in the last two months – will soon get a traffic light.
Four people were injured in a wreck at that intersection on July 7.
Mike Bethea, traffic engineer with South Carolina Department of Transportation, announced the new light at Tyson Drive and US 17 this week, stating that high traffic volume and wrecks were the two biggest factors in the decision.
Tom Stickler, president of the Hagley Homeowners Association, has been one of many area residents voicing concerns about the intersection and demanding a traffic light there.
He was one of two people who spoke about the intersection during the July 8 Georgetown County Council meeting.
Stickler said he is happy that SCDOT is “thinking around the standards” to put in the new traffic light.
He was referring to SCDOT’s reluctance to put a light at the Tyson Drive intersection since there is another light about 850 feet away at the South Causeway to Pawleys Island.
“It is always safe for bureaucracies to follow procedures and standards,” Stickler said.
“I’m glad that in this situation there was so much citizen and government pressure that they decided to find a way to think their way around it.”
He said he suggested that SCDOT treat both lights, the new one at Tyson Drive and the one at the South Causeway, as one light and make them in step so when one turns green, the other turns green also.
“They are talking about synchronizing the lights, but they don’t need to synchronize them with two separate controllers,” Stickler, who has studied traffic as a hobby, said.
“They should make the two intersections on one controller so the lights aren’t too close and it doesn’t violate intersection rules.”
He said people would never have to stop at both lights, just one or the other.
Stickler explained that originally when the Georgetown County Planning Commission and County Council approved the Lowes Foods shopping center development and the traffic plan the assumption was that there would be a traffic signal at Tyson Drive.
“Everything proceeded from that point including the parking lot, and the entrances and exits,” Stickler said.
“Then SCDOT decided not to put a traffic light at Tyson Drive.”
Stickler said the middle lane was changed to a left turn lane for south bound traffic going into Lowes Foods.
“That was a surprise for people coming out of Tyson who usually went into the center lane to enter traffic,” Stickler said.
“The result was accidents.”
He said SCDOT reacted to citizen complaints about this by erecting an illuminated message board warning traffic on Tyson Drive about the change.
But more accidents still occurred at the intersection.
Stickler hopes that the new light improves traffic patterns in that area.