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Residents seek traffic light for busy Buckwalter intersection

A new traffic light for an intersection that residents call dangerous on Buckwalter Parkway moved one step closer to reality Monday, though some details remain unresolved.

Four neighborhoods, including about 700 homes, have main entries along Lake Point Drive, which residents say is dangerously congested. A Parker's gas station opened near the intersection late last year, further increasing traffic.

Residents say it's nearly impossible to take a left turn out of their communities, and they bear witness to potential high-speed accidents that were only narrowly averted.

"It's going to happen -- there's going to be somebody dead, right there at that intersection," said Doug Fernung, vice president of the Edgefield Homeowners Association. "It's just a matter of time."

The Beaufort County Council is considering a temporary traffic light there, but the proposed ordinance would have mandated the light be removed and the intersection median be closed once an extension of Bluffton Parkway is completed.

Council Chairman Weston Newton proposed amending the language to permit -- but not require -- those future changes, so that traffic engineers will have more flexibility as road plans unfold.

The amendment and the motion were approved unanimously.

Monday was supposed to be the final vote on the matter, but since it was amended, it will need to be approved once more.

The county has been negotiating a cost-sharing agreement for the temporary light, which could cost about $100,000, with the town of Buffton and owners of Parker's gas stations. Town officials have also requested the county reconsider the planned route for the Bluffton Parkway extension. Newton said county staff is examining whether it is feasible to consider the town's proposal.

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