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  • Jason Renne

Officials: S.C. 544 on the road to safety

The safety of S.C. 544 has become a pressing issue due to people being hit while trying to cross the busy highway.

Certain safety measures have been taken to ensure safety to CCU students, such as the installation of a crosswalk and traffic light at the Founders Drive entrance, shuttle service enhancements to better suit student’s schedules and other on campus safety measures.

Mark Hoeweler, assistant executive director at Waccamaw Regional Counsel and Governments, spoke about what measure are being taken to ensure student safety on S.C. 544.

Mark Hoeweler is very aware that there needs to be more measures taken than just lowering speed limits.

“Changing signs won’t change behavior,” Hoeweler said.

There have been suggestions to increase laws enforcement presence on S.C. 544, along with hiring cross guards to regulate traffic.

This would be significantly cheaper than building a pedestrian crossing over 544, which Hoeweler claimed was taken off the table due to potential “behavioral issues.”

Another option is building a fence-like structure on the median of S.C. 544 so that people aren’t able to cross the road unless they are at a designated crosswalk.

Lastly, Hoeweler mentioned larger crosswalks and adjusting time on crosswalks, giving people more time to cross.

The students are asking for more, though.

Liam Emery, a student living at University Place, said, “safety on 544 could be better because it’s not at its optimal safety right now.”

Many other students have been discouraged by the recent tragedies as well, and want to see something put into place.

A student was hit by a car on SC-544 on Saturday, Aug. 19, the weekend before classes started, according to Selena Small with the Conway Police Department.

Small said the she was transported to a hospital and admitted for her injuries. There has not been an update on her condition.

In October 2016, a CCU student, 19-year-old Ryan Bielawa, was hit and killed while crossing SC-544 near the Monarch Apartments. Edward Washington, 31, of Conway, was charged with felony DUI and hit and run resulting in death in connection to that wreck.

In September 2013, another CCU student, 18-year-old Elizabeth Gorshack, was hit and killed while walking across SC-544 between Elvington Road and Cox Ferry Road. Julian Delvasto, 19, was charged with reckless homicide and hit and run resulting in death in connection to that wreck.

In order to remain safe while crossing S.C. 544, make sure to use designated crossing areas, and wait for the signal to walk before crossing the road.

Even if the roads seem clear, it is always better to take precaution than to regret it.

Check for cars turning onto side roads, especially into the housing areas.

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