Conway roundabouts

Conway is abuzz over the idea of installing traffic roundabouts on Main Street.

Consultants hired by the City of Conway to help plan Downtown Conway’s future have proposed replacing traditional intersections featuring traffic lights with roundabouts that could lead to a better flow of traffic.

If you’re not familiar with roundabouts, don’t feel alone.

Roundabouts are very popular in other parts of the nation but remain rare in Horry County.

There’s a roundabout on Singleton Ridge Road and another one near Coastal Carolina University and Horry-Georgetown Technical College.

It takes a little time to get used to navigating through a roundabout, but once you understand the process, using a roundabout becomes quite easy.

The roundabout on Singleton Ridge road helped solve a horrendous traffic problem.

The two roundabout proposed for Downtown Conway that generate the most conversation are at Third Avenue and Main Street and Fourth Avenue and Main Street.

These two intersections become very congested during rush hour. It’s not unusual for traffic on Main Street to back up to Red Hill during the afternoons when people working at the beaches get off work.

At first glance, both intersections seem far too small to accommodate roundabouts, but planners assured Conway City Council that enough space is available.

Hillary Howard, Conway Downtown Alive director, said she has heard about a 50-50 split from downtown merchants on their feelings about the roundabouts, but everyone agrees that there is a need for some sort of traffic calming solution, especially at Fourth Avenue and Main Street where log trucks coming from S.C. 905 can create problems.

Pete Poore, spokesperson with the S.C. Department of Transportation, provided information that says all traffic yields on entry to the roundabout, which is more efficient than the typical stop conditions. The slower speeds that a roundabout introduces also help maximize gaps for entering vehicles.

Statistics show roundabouts also result in few traffic accidents.

I’m intrigued by the idea of putting roundabouts on Main Street. However, additional study is needed before replacing existing traffic lights to control the flow of vehicles.

For example, I’m not sold that large trucks will be able to make it through a roundabout at Fourth Avenue and Main Street.

Nevertheless, I’m going to keep an open mind about roundabouts in Downtown Conway, especially if they can solve traffic congestion that will only get worse with time.

Reach Hannah Strong Oskin at 843-488-7242 or follow her on Twitter @HannahSOskin.

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