MYRTLE BEACH — The new ramps being built on the southbound side of the U.S. 17/Farrow Parkway construction zone are taking shape ahead of their summer 2013 completion, which will signal another major traffic shift at the back gate.
Construction crews are hard at working getting those ramps finished. Their height is blocking the view of some of the businesses on that side of U.S. 17, businesses that were visible just a few months ago.
Once complete, all southbound U.S. 17 traffic will move onto them and the heart of the back gate construction project -- building the overpass itself -- will begin.
“(It) is really the meat and potatoes of the project,” said Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokeswoman.
The $115 million overpass project is hoping to bring some needed relief to one of the busiest intersections in Horry County. It is expected to be finished in August 2014.
Bourcier said rain days are built in to the project and it remains on schedule.
Recently, drainage work and asphalt buildup was finished at Palmetto Pointe Boulevard, one of the tie-in roads.
Residents off Palmetto Pointe Boulevard are hoping the new overpass will offer some relief for them as well. The road is the only way in or out of the community, and the line at the traffic line gets quite long, particularly during the morning commuting hours.
Horry County Councilman Bob Grabowski, a local resident, said Palmetto Pointe Boulevard will eventually have two left-hand turn lanes for those heading north onto U.S. 17.
“It’s hard to make a left-hand turn,” he said.
Mack Loftin moved to the Palmetto Pointe area from North Carolina in June after retiring. Coming from a small town to Horry County has been an adjustment, one that he compares to moving to New York City.
Part of that adjustment has been getting used to the congestion and construction at the back gate.
“It scares me, at my age,” said Loftin, who was limping as he took out the trash at his Tibton Circle home in Palmetto Glen on Wednesday morning. “They are making a mess up there, I think so. I guess the means are good intentions.”
Whether the construction accompanying those good intentions are hindering businesseses in the area is unknown.
Debbie Langdon, owner of Northgate Cleaners near the back gate, said her customer traffic is way down. However, she doesn’t know whether to attribute it to the overpass construction or the economic climate.
Personally, she doesn’t have a problem with the construction.
“I’ve heard complaints from customers, basically, about the roads,” Langdon said.
Those complaints, she added, are generally about how troublesome it is getting in and out of the area.
While Loftin calls it a mess, from a traffic safety standpoint, it appears to be going smoothly.
Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins, with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, said there have been no major traffic issues since the construction began in June 2011.
Their focus has been on speed enforcement, still the biggest issue in that area. Speed limits have dropped from 55 to 45 miles per hour in the construction area.
Collins didn’t have specific figures on the number of traffic tickets given.
“It’s been pretty much status quo for us,” he said.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.