COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation is releasing the findings of a study investigating the dangers to pedestrians on Millwood Avenue.
The study began in mid-February after state legislators, community leaders and safety activists approached the DOT with concerns. In the last four years, three people have been hit and killed on Millwood Avenue, the most recent death occurring earlier this year, when a man crossing the road was struck by a SLED agent early in the morning.
By law, cars are required to yield to pedestrians using crosswalks, but on Millwood Avenue, it rarely happens.
Representative Seth Rose attended the meeting with DOT officials on Wednesday and is pleased with the findings of the report.
“One of the things that was very clear is pedestrians are having a really hard time crossing,” Rep. Rose said. “There is no incentive to use the existing crosswalk because one would not feel safer crossing there versus right here.”
As part of the study, the DOT placed cameras at the crosswalk near House Street and Millwood Avenue. The cameras captured a week’s worth of video and were reviewed by Department of Transportation officials.
According to Rose, short term solutions proposed by the DOT include pedestrian islands and a “hawk beacon signal,” designed to help pedestrians safely cross the road. Once a button is pressed, flashing lights are initiated, prompting cars to slow down to allow the pedestrian to cross the street. Pedestrian islands would offer those crossing the road a safe place to stand before crossing the rest of the way.
“The short term solutions are not as costly, we can get roughly into the seven-figure range with some of the things,” Rose said. “The long term solutions are farther out because they’re more expensive, but we’re working right now to secure funding for those short term projects. Conservatively speaking, I would think they could be in place by mid-summer.”
Rose said Millwood Avenue is on the department’s long list of roads needing repaving. While that could be years away, Rose is hopeful the project could be moved up if some of the funding can be secured.
Long term solutions include a 10-foot center turn lane with bike lanes, an 11-foot turn lane with a 6-foot pedestrian island and a 6 foot median with bike lanes and a pedestrian island.
DOT data shows more than 22,000 cars travel on Millwood Ave. every day. In a three and a half year period between 2015 and 2018, there were 145 crashes.