Traffic

Morning-rush traffic crowds the intersection of Willbrook Blvd. and Ocean Highway.

The US 17 Corridor in Georgetown County has seen an explosion of growth in recent years.

The 19-mile stretch between the intersection of US 17 and US 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet and the border of Hobcaw Barony sees an average of 35,000 vehicles every day.

Many residents are concerned about traffic congestion and dangerous intersections located through the corridor.

The road has faced many issues over the years including how to move traffic safely through the local resorts and housing communities while also allowing easy access to businesses and accommodating bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Mark Hoeweler, Assistant Executive Director of the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, said the stretch of highway has seen its share of improvements over the years but there are ways to make the road more efficient without compromising safety.

“There are some safety issues,” Hoeweler said. “When you mix people that are familiar with the roads with tourists that can cause friction and lead to accidents.”

The Grand Strand Area Transportation Study is a partnership between Georgetown County, the city of Georgetown, Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments and a consulting firm, AECOM to look into those problems and update a previous corridor study that was done in 2003.

According to its website, “The corridor study will analyze traffic operations, crash history, growth patterns and access management strategies to improve safety and traffic flow.”

“We are not starting something new,” Hoeweler said. “We are taking what was done before and checking boxes what has been done, which hasn’t, what is still relevant and seeing what new ideas may be out there.”

The result of the preliminary engineering and traffic study will result in short-term, mid-term and long-term recommendations that local governments and the SCDOT could implement with adequate funding.

Some solutions could be intersection improvements to relieve congestion, geometric improvements to improve safety and signal timing.

The current study began back in June and officials expect it to be completed in a nine-month timeframe. The GSAT is encouraging residents to go visit their website, https://wikimapping.com/US17.html.

There citizens can leave comments for the project team about specific locations on the corridor and there is also a frequently asked questions page where you can find more information about the study.

According to Hoeweler, many have already left useful comments that will be very helpful in their proposals.

“We found this to be a very useful tool,” Hoeweler said. “Even public meetings where you get a lot of citizens, there is sometimes a hesitancy to vocalize your opinions.”

Public information meetings where citizens can give input will held as the study progresses with the first one tentatively scheduled Sept. 17. The location and time will be announced.

“Our strategy is to get public input upfront, to take the temperature of what people think, what things are wrong, what issues need to be fixed and what needs to be looked out,” Hoeweler said. “We will take all of that information in, and put the ideas into a proposal. We will then come back to the public again and allow them to comment on our recommendations. “