Parents concerned over Little River school zone, HCS asks for patience


LITTLE RIVER, SC (WBTW) – Some parents in Little River are concerned over a school zone at Riverside Elementary School.

Their main complaints are lack of traffic control during morning drop-off and no flashing lights to warn drivers of the lowered speed limit.

Christa Walsh is a Riverside parent who sat in standstill traffic on Highway 57 for 20 minutes before she could drop her child off on Friday.

“I would love to see an officer. I know a lot of other parents would too. Flashing lights would definitely help get these cars to slow down during the school hours,” said Walsh.

An Horry County police officer helped guide traffic at the school on Tuesday. Walsh says it made all the difference.

“There was a difference of me being about 20 minutes sitting on Highway 57 versus about two minutes,” said Walsh.

School zone signs are posted in the area, but do not have flashing traffic lights.

“The Christian school up the road has the flashing lights and so do and so do the Horry County schools in our area,” said Walsh.

During the first weeks of school Horry County police help with traffic control and monitor speeding in school zones.

“The school board has jurisdiction over those areas. When we’re in the area we do what we can do assist in traffic enforcement,  but that is the school board’s function at that point,” said Corporal Bob Cody.

Last year Horry County Schools requested that SCDOT add flashing lights to the school zone signs at Riverside. The request was denied.

The district released a statement about the situation. It reads:

We are aware of some of the traffic concerns around some of our schools during this first week of school, which was anticipated. Usually, it takes about a week or two before the timing of dropping off students and bus traffic starts to stabilize and flow better. Some helpful tips we recommend for parents is to leave a bit earlier in the mornings if encountering traffic, and for afternoon pick-ups at elementary schools, we recommend parents display their car rider tags every day, which assists staff with loading cars quicker.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation did modify the school zone signage on Highway 57 near Riverside Elementary School, but denied our request last year for flashing beacons at the school. Regarding traffic control, and the act of directing traffic is a function of law enforcement. HCS does deploy school crossing guards at appropriate places, if justified, and if suitable infrastructure has been installed. A crossing guard is to assist pedestrians from crossing one side of the road to the other side, not to direct vehicle traffic.

HCS will continue to evaluate traffic improvements on our school campuses and make adjustments if feasible.

“What we ask is everybody be patient. Leave early knowing that the traffic is going to be tough at those schools. Utilize the bus system. We definitely have a great bus system. Utilize it if you can,” said Cody.

SCDOT also responded to News 13.

The department says anyone can request a traffic study by calling 855-GO-SCDOT (855-467-2368) toll free or 803-737-1200. Or by visiting their website.

Traffic study requests include adding flashing traffic lights to school zone signs.

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