Traffic expected on U.S. 17 Bypass/S.C. 707 bridge by October in Myrtle Beach

Construction crews are waiting for the ground to settle around the planned bridge at U.S. 17 Bypass and S.C. 707 before they make their next big move, which is to lay concrete for the north and south approaches to the bridge.

Lisa Bourcier, spokesman for Horry County, said the ground is expected to settle within the next three weeks. That, coupled with rainy weather this past year, has pushed the official opening of the bridge from August to October.

“The approaches to the bridge have not been poured,” Bourcier said. “What we’re waiting on is the northbound approaches. There’s still some settlement that hasn’t been released yet, which means the dirt is still moving. It’s not completely packed to what they need it to be in order to be paved.”

“We’ve always known there have been poor soil conditions in that area, even including the back gate area and where the Air Force base is.”

The project, known locally as the back gate construction because of its proximity to the old back gate of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, was sold to taxpayers as a $49.5 million project and is part of a larger one-cent sales tax program approved by voters in 2006 that raised $425 million. The project is now slated to cost $121.7 million with $15 million of it funded by the federal government.

Decking is completed on the bridge and most of the frontage road improvements have been completed and light fixtures have been installed on the bridge.

Within the next couple of weeks, overnight construction and lane closures should be expected to remove bracing from underneath the bridge and to complete some painting.

Mark Kruea, spokesman for Myrtle Beach, said the city is still on track to spruce up the area around the bridge by adding landscaping near the bridge. That work will trickle into the winter.

Bourcier said timing for the lights surrounding the project will also take time as well because some of it will have to wait until traffic is on the completed bridge.

“We’ll have to tweak a lot of the signals once we have everything configured as far as traffic on the bridge,” Bourcier said. “We’ll be tweaking the timing of those lights as well as Palmetto Pointe lights in coalition with bridge traffic. There’ll be some timing changes that’ll be made to help. Once we get traffic on the bridge, that will improve immensely.”