Nearly $200,000 in state funding will be used to improve beach access areas in North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced Friday.
The two join Folly Beach as the three communities awarded the matching grants, according to a press release issued by DHEC.
The funding for the coastal access improvement grants was made available through a state budget proviso that allows DHEC to expend a portion of available beach nourishment funds on coastal access improvement, according to the release.
The projects total $251,390.
North Myrtle Beach will construct or reconstruct handicap accessible boardwalk/dune walkover structures at 53rd Avenue North, Fourth Avenue North, Second Avenue South, and 14th Avenue South. The city will also construct a restroom facility at Fourth Avenue North and will construct a handicap accessible boardwalk/emergency vehicle ramp at 45th Avenue South, the release states. This project will use $109,500 in state funds and $125,500 in local match for a project total of $235,000.
Pat Dowling, spokesman for North Myrtle Beach, called the city’s plan for improving public access “robust.” He said it includes handicap access to the beach and locations for improvement are selected based on the condition of the existing access and geographic spacing of nearby access points.
“This particular grant program had a two- or three-year hiatus, and it’s really great to see it come back because it really does help us to not only keep up on reconstructing where we have to, but also adding the new ones,” Dowling said. “City staff will begin design on the projects later this year with construction planned for spring next year.”
Dowling said North Myrtle Beach went through some reconstruction of access areas last winter, particularly in the Cherry Grove area where there has been a lot of damage due to erosion.
The access points at 53rd Avenue North, Fourth Avenue North, Second Avenue South and 14th Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach will have new wooden ramps, while the 45th Avenue South location will have a new concrete emergency vehicle/handicap access path.
“So some of them are really having to re-construct and others are new locations for us,” Dowling said.
In Myrtle Beach, the city will replace dune walkover structures at 39th Avenue North, 29th Avenue North and 27th Avenue South. This project will use $89,890 in state funds and $89,890 in local match for a project total of $179,780.
“We greatly appreciate the state grant,” said Mark Kruea, spokesman for Myrtle Beach. “It saves our taxpayers the full cost of maintaining and upgrading the public dune crossovers onto the beach. We’ve been replacing half a dozen or so dune crossovers each year for the past five or six years. The last time they were replaced would have been post-Hugo.”
Kruea was referring to Hurricane Hugo, which struck the Grand Strand in September 1989.
There are 395 beach access points in the city with 145 being publicly maintained and accessible to the general public and marked by a sign. Street ends and alleys between 29th Avenue South and 9000 N. Ocean Boulevard serve as public access to the beach, which comes to an average of more than 14 access points per mile.
“These are access points to the public beach, which is why the state has an interest in seeing that they exist, are in good repair and are plentiful,” Kruea said.
The city of Folly Beach will reconstruct the beach walkover located on a city-owned right-of-way at 13th Street and East Ashley. The city will also construct an ADA accessible beach walkover, an ADA compliant changing station and ADA compliant parking spaces at the beach access located between 1561 and 1563 East Ashley. This project will use $52,000 in state funds and $52,000 in local match for a project total of $104,000.
As for Myrtle Beach, Kruea said the grant helps Myrtle Beach reach its accessibility goals, especially for those with disabilities.
“While not every crossover is capable of becoming a fully handicapped-accessible access point, due to space limitations and grade, we have converted many to fully accessible, ADA-compliant crossovers,” Kruea said. “The goal is to have at least one fully-accessible ADA-compliant crossover every half mile.”