Safety improvements could be coming to Hwy 17 Bus. in Surfside

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – On Tuesday night, Surfside Beach Town Council passed the first reading of a plan to bring infrastructure improvements to Highway 17 Business from Highway 544 to Melody Lane.

“Safety is the number one factor here,” said Mayor Bob Childs. “Right now, going down the center island you have a lot of places where people all the sudden just stop because they see something and make a U-turn.”

Childs said that’s why a lot of accidents happen.

“So we are going to have a lot of deceleration lane’s where they can build up and acceleration lanes and we are going to try to eliminate all the dangerous spots that we now have,” he added.

The enhancements would come from SCDOT and most funds would come from a franchise fund through Santee Cooper.

Town Administrator, Micki Fellner, said this is a one-time opportunity to upgrade the area and Childs said it’s been in the works for nearly 10 years.

Here is a list of some improvements and funding details:

  • Decorative mast arms for all lighted intersections ($91,700 approximate – not eligible for franchise funding)
  • Decorative median lighting throughout the corridor ($100,000 approximate)
  • Burying approximately 25 taps ($500,000 to $600,000 approximate)
  • Burying new Deerfield substation connection to main ($173,000 approximate)
  • Burying 5 other main feeders from Caropines Substation ($500,000 to $600,000 approximate)
  • Total estimated one time cost is $1,273,000 to $1,473,000, which could be paid through the current franchise fund
    • Recurring cost, rental fees, paid by the town – 25 median poles, currently $12,000/year, rental of decorative poles approximately $30,000/year, up charge of $18,000/year
    • Santee Cooper would begin engineering this year in cooperation with SCDOT
    • one phase of Ocean Boulevard would need to be delayed three years, which would extend the completion date from 2027 to 2030

Most of the cost would come from Santee Cooper but the town would be responsible for around $300,000 and some recurring costs. You can find a more in-depth break down of costs by clicking: here.

The council also said this could help bring more visitors or businesses to the area.

“That’s always a thought,” said Childs. “I think we all like to go places aesthetically pleasing, so that’s always true, but the main concern is the safety factor.”

The first reading passed although some council members said the town has other priorities, like the pier, where they need to focus their funds.

Yard sales and over-regulation

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council also passed first reading to regulate yard sales.

The ordinance would require homeowners to get a permit before holding a yard sale. It would also limit what they can sell and only allow residents to hold three yard sales a year.

“There’s a spreadsheet and every address we document,” said Director of Planning, Building and Zoning, Sabrina Morris. “Once you’ve had your three yard sales, we’ll send them a note that no you can’t have any more until next year.”

Morris said they get complaints about people in the town holding multiple yard sales which disturb neighbors and cause traffic congestion. They also have people in the town selling items in bulk like a commercial business.

Councilwoman Julie Samples said she didn’t agree with the ordinance because of the required permit. She said the town already over-regulates and felt it was unfortunate that the actions of a few often burden others.

Enforcing the beach tent ban

Fellner also said the police department is having a difficult time enforcing the town’s tent ban. Right now, the ban only applies to areas from 8th Avenue South to the southern end of town.

Fellner said the ordinance states what types of tents are not allowed but wants to change the wording to what is allowed: baby tents and umbrellas.

“It’s easier and more friendly, was the feeling of both the Police Chief and myself, as we discussed this to move forward and put in and clarify exactly what they could use on the beach,” said Fellner.

Three council members voted against the ordinance because they oppose the ban all together. In January the ban will apply to all of Surfside Beach.