MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — Dozens of residents voiced their concerns about the U.S. 17 corridor through Georgetown County and gave recommendations Wednesday night about potential changes to the area at a community meeting held by the Grand Strand Area Transportation Group (GSAT).
The U.S. 17 corridor study found that the area from Hobcaw Road to U.S. 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet near the Georgetown and Horry County border has experienced significant growth.
“Traffic in Murrells Inlet has gotten horrendous,” said David Michaux, who has been a Georgetown County resident for more than 80 years. “I live on the water on a little dirt road and it’s awful hard to get out.”
‘We saw a slow down around 2008, everything has kicked back up and re-gained the trend line that it had established before. Our GSAT’s area that covers Horry Georgetown and now Brunswick counties is experiencing steady growth at over 2 percent per year,” GSAT Director Mark Hoeweler said.
With all the growth comes congestion and safety concerns.
“What we’re looking to do first and foremost is to improve safety and eliminate the risks of fatal and serious automobile injury accidents,” Hoeweler said.
From 2016 to 2018, there were more than 1,000 crashes along the corridor. Of those, 299 of them were injury crashes and seven of them were fatal. That’s why GSAT presented about 20 intersections along the corridor that they want to make safer and more efficient.
“I’ve seen lots and lots of crashes,” Michaux said. “Had a couple friends killed actually growing up as a little boy, young man so yes, something’s got to be done.”
The projects are divided in short term, intermediate, and long term, depending on which is needed more. But Hoeweler said some or all may not even happen.
“This process is competitive so there’s limited funding,” Howeler said. “Projects will be done in priority order of how they’re ranked against each other, so these projects will be competing against projects in Myrtle Beach, Conway, and North Myrtle Beach. The ones that are ranked the highest will be done sooner.”
Howeler said, “what were trying to do with this plan is establish eligibility or federal funds so if it is in an approved plan and if our GSAT’s committee adopts this and adds it to the existing plan as an appendices, then those projects are eligible for federal funding.”
The next step is to take the projects to county council but GSAT is still looking for community input. More information can be found on the GSAT website.