The completion date of the U.S. 17 Bypass and S.C. 707 intersection construction project has been pushed back to November from its original plan of August, and two ice storms along the Grand Strand are being blamed.
The Horry County Council heard of the delay from Mike Barbee, project manager for the S.C. Department of Transportation, on Friday, during the second day of its budget retreat.
“From a broad view, there were two ice storms that probably cost the contractor about a month,” Barbee said. “One thing to consider is the ice may shut them down for a week, but with wet sub-grade and materials, it really costs about two weeks.”
The $121.7 million project, known as the back gate construction because of its proximity to the old back gate of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, will include 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.
Barbee said a wet spring and summer last year contributed to the delay.
“When we took bids, we did bid the number of days probably a little too optimistic on that front. We feel good about November,” Barbee said. “The next milestone, the contractor wants to have traffic on the bridge itself in September.”
Barbee said more night work and weekend work should be expected through the completion of the project. He said much like incentives are built into the contract for contractors to complete the project early, the contractor can be liable to the county for liquidated damages for completing the project late. Barbee said those talks don’t begin to happen until the project is complete.