Construction in North Myrtle Beach’s horseshoe expected to wind down by early May

Work is winding down in the horseshoe at Main Street in North Myrtle Beach, with construction expected to be complete on the Ocean Boulevard side by April 25, a date many business owners said can’t come soon enough.

Crews have been working to install an 84-inch pipe in North Myrtle Beach that will connect to an ocean outfall structure being constructed underground within the horseshoe and travel about 1,200 feet offshore where stormwater collected from the stormwater basin will be released, a $9.5 million project.

The intersection of Main Street and Ocean Boulevard closed for construction in early February and nearby business owners said it’s had an impact on their offseason business. City officials expected the intersection only would be closed throughout February.

“It’s been slower than normal, but what are you going to do?” said Kim Wagner, assistant manager of Pavilion Ice Cream and Yogurt, which sits next to the horseshoe on Ocean Boulevard. “We just hope they [construction crews] leave soon.”

Business owners said while they’re concerned the construction might get in the way of people heading to Main Street for the Society of Stranders Spring Safari, which begins Thursday, they hope the 10-day event will help improve business.

Construction will continue on the beach side of the horseshoe until early May, city spokesman Patrick Dowling said.

“On the Ocean Boulevard side, things have to be out of there and [the road] paved by April 25 because the Divas Half Marathon is April 27,” Dowling said.

The half marathon route starts and ends on Ocean Boulevard near Main Street. About 5,000 runners participated in the event last year.

Asked if there was a contingency plan if work was not complete on the road, Dowling said, “It will be done. There’s no alternative. We’ll just have to hold their feet to the fire. … We will have the divas and they will run on the nicely paved Ocean Boulevard.”

Dowling said the horseshoe will reopen in early May as an unpaved parking lot for the summer. More work will be done in the winter, including installing amenities and possibly a permanent public restroom, before the horseshoe is paved before the 2015 summer season. Final plans for the configuration of the new horseshoe have not yet been finalized, Dowling said.

Owners of businesses on Main Street and Ocean Boulevard said the closed intersection also has caused a lot of confusion for their customers.

“We’ve had customers call and say, ‘I see cars parked, but how do we get down there?’ ” said Rosa Brigman, an employee at Emmi Lu’s Unique Boutique on Main Street. “I tell them to just drive on down. … The [detour] sign makes people think the road is closed.”

Wagner said some tourists told her they would have stayed somewhere else had they known the construction would be going on.

Ernie Ward, an Atlanta resident who owns a home in Cherry Grove, said he wasn’t pleased with the construction as he walked around Main Street on Tuesday.

“It sucks,” he said of the inconvenience, adding that he wasn’t convinced the work would be done by April 25. “If they’re trying to have it all paved by the 25th, they need to get off their rear end.”

Construction on the outfall began in September. Two ice storms this winter put work behind schedule, but crews were allowed to work day and night on the beach side of the project, allowing them to make up time, Dowling said.

“We don’t want to be working around when the first blush of tourists come to town,” Dowling said.

The Main Street outfall will be the city’s fifth project to replace outfall pipes that were put in decades ago. The old pipes rest on top of the sand for the most part and potentially drain bacteria into the swim zone.