Berkeley County considering roundabout at busy Sangaree intersection

Berkeley County is looking at ways to improve the intersection of Sangaree Parkway and Royle Road, where traffic backs up and hundreds of school children cross the street each day.

An intersection where students are forced to dodge vehicles to get to school might soon get some improvements to make it safer.

Berkeley County is looking at whether to put a roundabout, traffic signal or raised crosswalk at the intersection of Royle Road and Sangaree Parkway. The preferred solution is a roundabout, officials said.

“A roundabout seems to be a pretty good option to keep traffic flowing, but I need to make sure that the children get across the road without having to play Frogger,” said Councilman Tommy Newell, referring to a video game that involves frogs crossing a busy road. He represents the area and said he is “not stopping until there is an elevated crosswalk also.”

The sprawling neighborhood is home to Sangaree Elementary, Intermediate and Middle schools, which together house more than 2,300 students in preschool through eighth grade.

Many children walk to school each day on the sidewalks that line the parkway, a winding two-lane road that is the spine of the community. It connects North Main Street and Royle Road.

Traffic backs up at the intersection every morning and afternoon as parents try to get their children to and from class.

“After school is out, on weekends, holidays and summer break, there is not any way for children to cross Royle Road safely,” Newell said.

The site has been an issue for years, but previous traffic-light studies by the state Department of Transportation have not shown a need for a traffic signal.

In 2012, a crossing guard ended up in intensive care after being struck by a vehicle that was making a left turn from Royle Road onto School House Lane.

Berkeley County School District in 2013 kicked off a campaign called “Drive Like Your Child Lives Here” aimed at encouraging people to drive carefully in the area, and the following year, at the request of parents, the district asked the county, DOT and the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments for help.

“I’ve seen several near-misses,” said parent Jennifer Taylor. “Everybody is in a hurry and sometimes the kids walking or the adults driving aren’t paying attention. Something has to be done before a child is killed.”