Horry County officials are still waiting word from the S.C. Department of Transportation on whether the soggy, and sometimes icy, weather will impact the completion date of construction at U.S. 17 Bypass and S.C. 707.
Steve Gosnell, assistant county administrator for infrastructure and regulation, said the county isn’t too concerned with shifting a deadline due to Mother Nature and not due to the construction company.
“As the schedule goes, we’re projecting an August completion,” Gosnell said. “Whether we finish in August or a month or so after that, around that time, we’re satisfied. We obviously had some weather issues. They’ve been able to work around most of it. It’s a complex project. We’re trying to build it in traffic.”
The $121.7 million project, known locally as the back gate construction because of its proximity to the old back gate of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, is part of a larger one-cent sales tax program approved by voters in 2006.
The aim of the project is to build an overpass that eliminates the stoplight at the Farrow Parkway/S.C. 707 intersection, and keeps U.S. 17 Bypass traffic moving. It is estimated that about 70,000 cars and trucks pass through that intersection during peak season.
Workers spent much of the summer focused on the underground portions of the project and the mechanical reinforcement of the soil at the location. They spent most of the fall and winter placing the elevated girders, but battled cold temperatures and, in some instances ice, which delayed work by days and sometimes weeks.
“It’s progressing well,” Gosnell said. “We’re really focusing on the bridge section.”
Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for the county, said there may be some limited lane closures in the future as crews will work around the clock for up to three days boiling medians on Farrow Parkway and S.C. 707, where each street meets U.S. 17 Bypass.
”What we’re going to have to do, and they haven’t given me a timeline, but we’re going to have to add permanent medians in the center of Farrow [Parkway]... and then on [S.C.] 707, they’re going to have to do the same thing,” she said.
Given the amount of traffic and unforeseen weather conditions, Gosnell said the project has, so far, come along without a hitch.
“Personally I think it’s went very well from a safety perspective,” Gosnell said.