052517 Traffic: Oak tree will yield to roundabout
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Traffic: Oak tree will yield to roundabout

Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

An oak tree that serves as a landmark as well as a community notice board will be cut to make way for a roundabout at the intersection of Waverly Road and Petigru Drive, according to the state Department of Transportation. The agency is proposing a $1.3 million project to improve the intersection.

“We won’t be able to save the oak tree in either option,” said Rebecca Breland, regional project manager for DOT.

A community meeting on the project is scheduled next month. “It’s an opportunity to get feedback from people who drive it every day,” Breland said. “They are familiar with the types of vehicles that use it and problems at the intersection.”

Petigru Drive takes a jog to the right where it meets Waverly Road. That offset and limited sight-lines make the intersection a problem, according to traffic engineers. A review of accident data showed 29 collisions in and around the intersection from 2005 to 2016. The most was five accidents in 2005.

Georgetown County proposed the project as part of the regional transportation plan in 2015. In addition to school traffic, the roads are also handling more local traffic as people look for alternatives to Highway 17. After studying traffic patterns, DOT decided the intersection would warrant a roundabout. The alternative would be aligning Petigru Drive to remove the offset.

The meeting on the intersection will be held June 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Waccamaw High School cafeteria. DOT staff will have a drawing of the proposed design and take questions and comments. There will be no formal presentation, Breland said.

“The standard design uses what we call a truck apron, a traversable curb,” she said. The rear wheels of large trucks are intended to run over the curb.

The project will also accommodate plans for the Bike the Neck route along Waverly and Petigru, Breland said.

The roundabout will be the second in Georgetown County. DOT built one at the intersection of Wachesaw Road and Kings River Road in 2011. Their use around the state has increased in the 20 years since the first one was built at Hilton Head, Breland said. They are considered safer than four-way intersections because vehicles don’t turn left across on-coming traffic.

“We are just coming to present an idea and receive feedback,” Breland said. “We will analyze that and include it in the design.”

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