The discussion regarding the future of U.S. 17 in the Pawleys Island community was listed as one of the top issues of 2013. Here we are into 2014 and not much has changed as for as the position our local politicians have taken regarding this issue.
The project was advertised and public hearings were held, very few folks showed up, but as the project gained publicity the community became more interested in what the Citizen’s Coalition, consisting of local businesses and concerned citizens, was formed. Public forums were scheduled and discussions with elected officials were held.
The coalition was told an alternative plan would be looked at if it had statistics to back it up. That has been done after frustrating delays in getting FOIA requests and other vital information needed.
Over 150 businesses along with 3,000 citizens signed petitions against the original proposed project, with not one wanting to stop the project, but only requesting that county officials and SCDOT take a second look at what has been stated to potentially negatively impact businesses on the “main street” of Pawleys Island.
I served as chairman of the GSATS Committee when the Highway 17 Corridor concept was approved about 10 years ago. I saw plans changed and altered for the betterment of a community as concepts became final plans and as communities changed. Our roads are in a constant state of change to better serve communities.
The ownership of changes to this plan is in the hands of our county councilmen, but the real ownership of public streets and improvements belong to those they serve. This strip of highway represents hundreds of years of business investments, hundreds of jobs, and thousands of miles traveled by residents, tourist and industry.
According to national data statewide and regional transportation projects should consider the following criteria: Does the project promote local and regional economic development; enhance or improve tourism, freight and services, movement of workers, access to jobs and opportunities and access to other transportation facilities?
The Pawleys Island community is unique. We are limited in east/west highway arteries and this several mile project is the life line to our business community, access to residential communities and tourism. The current plan will affect the way we travel to work, tourist trade, and access to services and homes for decades. Jobs, future growth and convenience to public services will be impacted.
Our county council members are keenly aware of the alternative plan initiated by the Citizen’s Coalition which has been presented according to the criteria requested. It represents the concerns of their constituents and deserves their sincere consideration.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.