Searching for solutions to traffic congestion on U.S. 17 in Georgetown County

Georgetown County News

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WBTW) – Lawmakers are looking to improve traffic on one of the most congested roads on the South Strand.

Afternoon traffic crawling or not even moving can be a common, yet frustrating sight if you drive on U.S. Highway 17 in Murrells Inlet.

An advisory group of lawmakers who help plan the Grand Strand’s roads wants to figure out how U.S. 17, also called Ocean Highway, in Georgetown County can handle an estimated 35,000 vehicles a day more efficiently.

“Everybody is concerned with the growth and the increased traffic on the roads and how those traffic patterns look in the future,” said Mark Hoeweler, the director of GSATS, which stands for Grand Strand Area Transportation Study.

GSATS is examining the Ocean Highway corridor from the intersection with U.S. Highway 17 Business at the Horry County border to Hobcaw Barony, just outside of Georgetown.

Hoeweler says he hopes to find modern solutions to improve traffic flow through intersections or along the highway, even for bikers and walkers.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of the game, see what’s out there technology-wise or new approaches that we can maybe incorporate,” he said.

It starts with this website, which GSATS created to help you let them know exactly where you think there are traffic problems. You can drop a pin on the map and explain your concerns on or near U.S. 17.

One person already said they “have almost died many times” trying to turn left into the Tidelands Health Waccamaw Community Hospital. Another says getting on U.S. 17 from Huntington Beach State Park “is extremely dangerous.”

GSATS last studied U.S. 17 in 2003 and Hoeweler says he hopes the group will eventually find solutions everyone can enjoy.

“The idea would be to bring a project that scores well in all areas, but mainly in safety, congestion and cost benefit,” Hoeweler said.

There will be public information meetings, potentially as soon as August, where you can learn about this study. GSATS hopes to finish the study by the end of 2020.

Hoeweler says the study could set a plan for U.S. 17 for up to 25 years.

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