Mount Gilead residents concerned about proposal for busy Garden City intersection

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – People living in a South Strand neighborhood say a plan to change a busy nearby intersection is not the right fit.

Several people living near Garden City say they’re worried about the plan to change the intersection right at the entrance to the Mount Gilead neighborhood.

“It’s just going to be a disaster,” one woman said.

“Statistically, there should be less accidents, but I can assure you there will be some accidents right there in that area,” one man said. “You completely cut off an egress.”

This is one of three intersections along Kings Highway in Garden City scheduled to be upgraded as part of the county’s RIDE III program. That includes intersections with Atlantic Avenue and the Garden City Connector, but state Department of Transportation engineers met with mostly Mount Gilead residents Wednesday to explain how they designed the proposal right next to them.

A map of the proposed changes to the Mount Gilead Road/Inlet Square Drive intersection with Kings Highway.

This plan adds two intersections on Kings Highway near Mount Gilead called “indirect left turns.” They’re similar to ones on South Carolina Highway 9 near Loris, but would include traffic lights for drivers to safely change direction on U.S. Highway 17 Business. Engineers say the Mount Gilead-Inlet Square intersection has had 85 crashes in recent years.

Engineers also say traffic on Kings Highway would spend less time waiting at lights and drivers turning from Inlet Square or Mount Gilead would be safer.

“Hands down, it beats it on safety,” said Matt Lifsey, the Carolina operations manager for Neel-Schaffer, which is an engineering firm working with SCDOT. “It performs one letter grade better on the level of service and it has more additional capacity beyond the year 2043.”

Lifsey also says 143 intersections nationwide are indirect left turns like the ones proposed, adding that they’re a growing trend.

“This is not some strange intersection we invented in Columbia and brought down here to Myrtle Beach,” he said. “It is something that exists in the country and you’re going to see it more and more and more.”

Many people at the meeting, however, didn’t like the idea, which would only allow right hand turns from Mount Gilead and Inlet Square. That means drivers would have to make a U-turn at the indirect left turn intersection to go in the opposite direction or on the street on the opposite side of U.S. 17 Business. Instead, several preferred a concept engineers didn’t pick, which would extend Inlet Square to make a four-way intersection with Mount Gilead.

A map of the proposed changes for the Atlantic Avenue and Garden City Connector intersections with Kings Highway.

Right now, the roads technically have two separate sets of traffic lights, but they are synchronized.

“We saw a consensus build in the community that they did want to move forward with (that alternative plan) and so, as a council member, that’s what I’m going to be lobbying for,” said Tyler Servant, who represents Garden City on county council.

You have until Dec. 6 to give SCDOT any written comments about this proposal.

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