Why one school’s traffic will be a nightmare for hundreds of parents

Parents make their way around a traffic loop at a local school.
Parents make their way around a traffic loop at a local school. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

School traffic is always a nightmare for parents chauffeuring their children to Ocean Bay Elementary School in Carolina Forest, where the traffic light only allows for a dozen cars at a time to escape the parking lot backed up with hundreds of vehicles.

Now coupled with the ongoing construction of International Drive next to the school, plus traffic from The Farm community, this year will be “a disaster,” says Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman.

“Our phones are going to start ringing, I know it,” Lazarus warned members of the council’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday.

School starts Aug. 23, but Lazarus asked Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill to start making plans to address those issues when classes begin.

Specifically, Lazarus asked if officers could be on site to help direct traffic more quickly through the stoplight.

“It lets 10 cars out, but you’ve got 200 sitting in line,” Lazarus said.

Hill said police are already preparing to launch a school traffic safety campaign along with the state highway patrol, and utilizing the county’s street crimes unit and patrol officers, to target speeders in school zones.

The purpose is to “send a message that we’re serious about school safety, slow down in school zones, and if we can identify issues because of changes in the environment, we’ll address those as well,” Hill responded.

Councilman Johnny Vaught said that having police assist with traffic, especially in Carolina Forest, is critical. That’s when many parents are first learning the traffic patterns around schools, he said.

Construction on International Drive is expected to be completed in March.

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson