The extension of S.C. 31 from S.C. 544 to just north of Moss Creek Road will close a portion of Enterprise Road for nine months, causing one community leader to label the potential traffic woes as “troublesome.”
The $237 million project to extend S.C. 31 to about S.C. 707 has been a multi-year project funded mostly by State Infrastructure Bank Funds, and in part with American Recovery and Investment Act Funds and local match dollars. The nearly four-mile extension will be a multi-lane highway that includes a bridge over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Construction is slated to be completed by the spring of 2017.
Mike Barbee, regional production engineer for the S.C. Department of Transportation, said at a press conference Thursday that this project is a continuation of the original construction of S.C. 31, which opened in December 2002. That’s when a 22-mile stretch of the six-lane highway linked U.S. 501 and S.C. 9.
“What we’ve been on is really a 12-year quest to finish this project,” Barbee said. “A lot of that had to do with funding. If we had all of the money that we needed, we would have done this 12 years ago.”
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The second phase of the project, which linked U.S. 501 to S.C. 544, opened in March 2005.
Barbee said a main part of the project will be the crossing of the Intracoastal Waterway, and there will be some wetland bridges totaling seven bridges overall throughout the project.
“That’ll be about a 3,600-foot-long bridge,” he said of the Intracoastal bridge. “It’ll look very similar to... Robert Edge Parkway in North Myrtle Beach, Fantasy Harbour in Myrtle Beach.”
The clearing of trees and utility relocation will start this spring, with the construction of the S.C. 31 bridge going both north and south over the waterway to start then as well. The news that raised the most concern was the closing of the Enterprise Road crossing at S.C. 31, which is scheduled to begin in August and re-open in May 2015.
Al Jordan, president of the Greater Burgess Community Association, said there may be some upset residents, but it’s not like they will not have access to their properties.
“Well I think it’s going to be troublesome,” he said, adding he commends the state for allowing local access to homes and businesses. “Anytime you have a construction area involving orange barrels and whatnot, it’s going to be an annoyance to people. But, I think life will go on.”
Adding to the construction one-two punch, which impacts places like the Osprey Marina, the Wacatee Zoo and the Socastee Recreation Park, is the fact that the state is currently working on a project to widen S.C. 707, which is where both north and south detour routes will dump into.
“To those people, it’s going to be a pain,” Jordan said. “It’s not like they can’t get there, it’s just going to take them longer to get there.”
Unfortunately, he said, it’s all a part of the area’s growing pains.
“There’s no alternative,” Jordan said. “If you want this road built, they have to do this road construction.”
The detour to the south leads drivers down Enterprise Road to Bay Road and then S.C. 707. The detour to the north leads travelers up Enterprise Road to S.C. 707.
Barbee said he understands there may be some upset motorists, and the SCDOT will do what it can to shorten the process.
“Obviously, for the folks who live along that corridor, it’s an inconvenience. It’s additional drive time,” Barbee said. “But we’re going to do our utmost best to limit that to nine months. Our desire would be to improve on that, but right now we’re anticipating that to be a nine-month process.”