Construction on a traffic flow project northeast of the Highway 17 Bypass and S.C. 707 interchange will begin Monday and will help local traffic get around the congested intersection to get to and from The Market Common area.
The three-day project will be a permanent traffic pattern shift for Old Socastee Highway and Old Railroad Bed Road. A cul-de-sac will replace the current T intersection and will be built on Old Socastee Highway about 100 feet south of the former intersection of Old Railroad Bed Road and Old Socastee Highway.
This work will eliminate the stop sign on Old Railroad Bed Road at Old Socastee Highway, and create a safer and more functional intersection, according to a press release from the S.C. Department of Transportation. The project also includes a four-way stop at Fred Nash Boulevard and Emory Road.
Mike Barbee, project manager for SCDOT, said the project follows along the lines of what city of Myrtle Beach officials want to do with Highway 17 Bypass, which is eliminate local traffic as much as possible.
“It’s to facilitate the overall frontage road plan,” Barbee said. “The city’s master plan is to construct a series of frontage roads from Harrelson to about S.C. 544. The thought behind that is the more traffic you can get off of 17 and remove those local trips and just keep 17 as more of a high level roadway, [it] would lessen the amount of people turning.”
He said these improvements will help traffic in and out of Market Common without having to interfere with the often congested Highway 17 Bypass and S.C. 707 intersection.
“You can really use that as a back entrance to The Market Common,” Barbee said. “In global terms, when we’re done with this project, you’ll be able to get on 17 at Airport Diner, cruise all the way down, and access Market Common without ever having to get to deal with the interchange out there.
“There is an increasing number of cars that are using Fred Nash to get out to the [Coastal Grand] mall and points north. This just helps that traffic move.”
Voters approved a one-cent sales tax referendum in 2006 that addressed, among other road projects, the heavily traveled Highway 17 Bypass and S.C. 707 intersection, often referred to as the back gate intersection because of its proximity to the former back gate of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.
The process of placing the 300-foot main girder, which is the longest beam of the $121.7 million project, is slightly delayed.
“We’re still coordinating with the contractor on that,” Barbee said. “It was going to be early December. Now it’s going to be mid-December that they’re going to hang the main girder.”
The weather for the project has not been too bad, he said.
“It’s not been horrible,” Barbee said. “It’s been wetter. We’ve just had such a wet spring and summer. But it’s not had a tremendously detrimental affect on the overall schedule. We’re still targeting that August 2014 timeframe.”