Preparations to build the Intracoastal Waterway bridge over Enterprise Road will delay the closure of Enterprise by at least four months, and much to the dismay of area businesses.
The Enterprise Road closure was slated to begin in August, but has now been pushed back until after the first of the year. It will still be closed from east of Butler Road and west of Hunters Horn Lane for up to nine months.
“They need to access Enterprise Road,” said Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for Horry County. “The contractors need to keep it open so they can transport materials and equipment to the Intracoastal Waterway bridge construction. They just need access on Enterprise to bring the bridge materials from Enterprise to the waterway bridge that they’re constructing.”
Firestone, Colo.-based Flat Iron Corp., which handled a $254 million, 20-mile stretch of S.C. 31 in past years, is the contractor for this portion of S.C. 31 as well.
“The closure is going to be unavoidable, but they’re just timing it to push it back some,” Bourcier said, adding it should not alter the project’s overall completion target date of spring of 2017.
There are two bridges planned – the bridge that goes over the waterway and Enterprise Road over S.C. 31.
The Enterprise Road construction is part of the extension of S.C. 31 from S.C. 544 to just north of Moss Creek Road. The overall project will cost $237 million. Current plans call for the closure of Enterprise Road from east of Butler Road to west of Hunters Horn Lane from the start of the year to the fall of 2015.
Horry County officials have said it would be too expensive and would delay the project by months if it were to change plans now. Horry County Councilman Bob Grabowski, who supported the closure, said the option to build a road around the construction would require the acquisition of several personal homes and properties, which is something he does not support.
Enterprise Road has an annual average daily traffic count of 4,200 vehicles per day as of 2012, according to the latest figures provided by Horry County.
The county placed five traffic counters in the area between a recent Tuesday and Friday to update those numbers.
“We put counters on Bay Road because we didn’t have any traffic data since the growth in the area,” said Steve Gosnell, assistant county administrator for infrastructure and design. “We placed a couple on Enterprise Road to get current data since the SCDOT’s counts were taken few years ago during the design phase.”
Sherry Harrelson, general manager of the Osprey Marina, which is on Enterprise Road, said the shift in the schedule will have a bigger impact on the marina than it did when it was planned to start next month.
“That’s a part of our main season,” she said. “People probably won’t use their boats as much. It’ll affect our fuel sales, as well.”
Asked whether the delay would have a bigger impact on the Waccatee Zoo, the answer was simple for Jeff Futrell, whose family owns the zoo.
“Of course,” Futrell said. “As the school groups book, we’re telling them what’s going to happen... but you’re dealing with a tremendous amount of unknowns, and it’s hard to give a definite answer on an unknown.”
What’s for sure is the zoo had re-designed its brochure to show prospective visitors the alternate route to get to the zoo when Enterprise Road is closed. With construction underway for the widening of nearby S.C. 707 and future construction plans for Bay Road – both roads being used as detours to get around the Enterprise Road construction – Futrell said the congestion likely would impact the zoo’s bottom line.
“It’s just an awful lot of traffic at one time in one area,” Futrell said.
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or on Twitter @TSN_JRodriguez.