The second major traffic shift is coming Monday at the U.S. 17 Bypass/Farrow Parkway construction zone – the backgate area of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force base.
Horry County officials announced Wednesday all southbound vehicles on the U.S. 17 Bypass in the area of the backgate overpass work will move onto two ramps starting Monday at 8 p.m. It represents a 100-foot traffic shift to the west.
The shift should take five to six hours to complete. Traffic signals at the U.S. 17 Bypass/Farrow Parkway intersection will go dark from 8:30 p.m. to midnight, but they will be back online in time for the Tuesday morning commute, said Mike Barbee, project manager with the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
Officers with the South Carolina Highway Patrol will be on site to assist with traffic flow Monday night, during the traffic signal outage.
“We don’t see these kind of shifts often,” said Barbee.
Last summer, a similar shift happened on the northbound side of the U.S. 17 Bypass in the construction zone.
Construction crews were busy Wednesday paving the two new ramps that will help carry the 60,000 to 70,000 drivers passing through the backgate area on a daily basis.
At first glance, one might think it impossible for workers to finish all the paving work that has to be done over the next five days. However, the northbound ramps looked almost identical a few days ahead of their 2012 unveiling, and the traffic shift happened on schedule.
Once the southbound traffic has shifted, work will begin on the fourth stage of the construction project – building the bridge.
Barbee said the major elements of the bridge construction will occur over the next year. By May 2014, according to the updated construction timeline, 90 percent of the entire project should be finished.
At that time, final paving work and completing the tie-in of all ramps to Farrow Parkway and S.C. 707 will start. The entire project is still slated for completion in August 2014.
The $115 million project is expected to remedy congestion at one of the busiest intersections in the Myrtle Beach area.
Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokeswoman, said the biggest complaints from drivers since construction began in the summer of 2011 has been about the timing of the traffic light at the U.S. 17/Farrow Parkway intersection. Otherwise, she added, there’s been no major upheaval.
“I think things are going well,” she said.
Drivers are reminded the speed limit through the construction zone is 45 miles per hour.
Barbee said he’s not noticed a spike in accidents in the work area, and S.C. Highway Patrol officials have noted there haven’t been major crashes in the area since work began. Speeding has been the No. 1 issue law enforcement has dealt with.
The SCHP continues enforcement of the backgate, and drivers can routinely see troopers in the area on their morning and evening commutes.