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Public comments show intense opposition to proposed fence along S.C. 544

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Of the 74 public comments the South Carolina Department of Transportation received in regards to the proposed fence being built in the median of S.C. 544 from Founders Drive to West Cox Ferry Road near Coastal Carolina University, only one supported the endeavor.

The goal of the proposed plan is to increase safety for students walking to campus. Many of those who commented, however, felt the fence would cause more harm than good.

“This fence is not a safety solution only an additional safety concern,” one person wrote. “It is also impeding an evacuation route.”

Another wrote that the fence would cause traffic congestion due to the cars that need to make a U-turn, and thereby create a larger danger.

Many also felt the students should take enough responsibility to follow all pedestrian laws when it comes to crossing the street.

If these ‘kids’ are old enough to go to college, than (sic) they should be old enough to cross the street by themselves,” one person wrote.

“I have been crossing this road for 50-ish years with no problem. I know there is bad apples in every crowd, it’s not my fault that I have to put up with ignorant pedestrians that don’t know how to look,” another person wrote.

Below is an illustration showing the most common words used in the public comments:

Source: WMBF News
Source: WMBF News

Crossing traffic on Highway 544 has been an issue of concern for both students and administration at Coastal Carolina University for several years.

In May of last year the University proposed a median fence or barrier along the center of 544 to force the use of a designated crosswalks.

Discussions of the barrier have been going on since 2017 following several student fatalities along the busy roadway.

Cathleen Jordan is a student at CCU and also works off 544, she feels even with a barrier a speed car can still run a red light or hit a student using a crosswalk correctly.

“Maybe if the cars weren’t going 50 mph in a 40 mph they wouldn’t catch up to the student who’s crossing anyway,” said Jordan.

Doug Gunner works at ACE University bookstore off 544 and has been against the plan since the beginning.

He feels with such a large majority against the current proposal something else needs to be done.

“They definitely need to try alternate methods,” said Gunner.

Coastal Carolina University has not had the opportunity to see the comments yet but release this statement, "Pedestrian safety on SC 544 is tremendously important to Coastal Carolina University. As community perspective is provided on the SC 544 pedestrian safety project, CCU will continue to work with SCDOT while they determine more specifics and finalize their plans for the project.”

We did reach out to the South Carolina Department Transportation to see how these comments could impact the project but have not heard back at this time.

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