FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD) – City of Folly Beach leaders are working to make it safer for pedestrians through projects and road improvements. The need for safety upgrades comes after an increase in vehicle-pedestrian accidents.
Folly Beach is currently in phase one of a three-phase project that will add pedestrian pathways around the island allowing people safer access to both the commercial district and the beach. Leaders say an uptick in accidents has created a greater need for improvements.
“We’re back up to getting tons of cars out here, thousands of cars a day,” says Police Chief and Director of Public Safety Andrew Gilreath.
Chief Gilreath says the increase in traffic also means more accidents involving people walking or biking on the island. Island leaders have been working to address safety concerns for years through several projects.
“We’ve increased the visibility on the sidewalks, another project we’ve done is put in manually lighted crosswalks,” says Chief Gilreath.
Despite the improvements made in past years, safety concerns have remained leading to a need to provide a safer way to navigate the island on foot or bike.
“But also create some pathways to get folks out of the roadway and so that way pedestrians and cars don’t mix because when they do that’s usually a problem,” says Chief Gilreath.
The pathways would be six feet wide to allow for travel in either direction. Eric Lutz, Director of Public Works for Folly Beach says it will provide a better way to navigate the city.
“Pedestrians, strollers, bicycles you know multi-use,” says Lutz. “It’ll all be pervious so it will drain well. It should be a real benefit to the island.”
Phase one runs from 2nd West St. between Indian and Artic Avenue, south of the city’s business district. Phase two and three will cross the middle of the island and finish on the northside of the business district.
“It just gets very congested out here and people right now have nowhere to go but right down the middle of the road,” says Lutz.
Chief Gilreath says increased traffic ,distracted driving, alcohol and out of town visitors are all contributing factors to the need for improved safety. He says while the projects will improve safety, people need to continue being cautious when traveling the island’s roads.
“Taking the extra time to make sure people see you before you’re in the roadway and getting out in front of cars is key,” says Chief Gilreath.
City officials say they hope to have phase one of the project completed by Memorial Day. Phase two is currently in the permitting process but the city hopes to have it done by late summer. Lutz says phase three would likely be paired with drainage projects, a timeframe for phase three is still being worked out.