Wet weather has delayed the utility relocation part of the S.C. 707 road widening project by two months, but hasn’t been a hassle to motorists so far, according to a neighborhood representative.
Officials with Horry County and Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineer firm for the project, updated area media Tuesday on progress of the $105 million project.
Kimwood Partenheimer, senior project manager with Parson Brinckerhoff, said the project is now moving right along.
“We’re wrapping up the advanced clearing and grubbing contract,” Partenheimer said. “The roadway contractor has been given a notice to proceed as of Oct. 15 and we expect him to be on site actively working sometime next month.”
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He said the crew should be constructing the road by next summer. A traffic light was activated at Big Block Road and S.C. 707 last week, but the overall clearing and grubbing is behind “a couple of months,” Partenheimer said.
“We’ve just had an excessive amount of rain this last July, August and September,” he said. “It’s really difficult when you’re trying to get a paving operation going, the weather just kills you.”
Total rainfall for the Grand Strand reached more than 6 inches in July and another 6 inches in August and 4 1/2 inches in September, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C. That rainfall was 5.5 inches more than the same three-month period in 2013, according to the service.
The wet weather is being blamed for moving the completion date back from spring 2017 to the end of August 2017, Partenheimer said.
Plans call for widening S.C. 707 from a two-lane shoulder section to a five-lane curb and gutter road. It will stretch a little more than 9 miles from just south of Enterprise Road to the Horry/Georgetown county line. The project is aimed at alleviating the traffic jams that occur from the 28,000 to 30,000 vehicles a day along that stretch.
This is not the first delay in the project, which is still in its early stages.
In early 2010, the SC Department of Transportation was ordered to incorporate the S.C. 31 road extension and the widening of S.C. 707 projects into one project. By March of that year, it had applied for a modification to the S.C. 31 permit and to add a ramp to the S.C. 544/Carolina Bays Parkway interchange.
The process got as far as public notice, which means it cleared all hurdles by the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That is until the Corps received comments to the permit, or an objection from the Coastal Conservation League, through the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Construction on Carolina Bays Parkway and S.C. 707 was set to begin in 2011 and both were going to be completed by this past summer.
Partenheimer said the communities impacted by the widening have been pleased so far.
“Next, we roll up our sleeves and get the drainage operations going,” he said. “It’s just going to be a long and involved process and it’s going to take some time.”
Al Jordan, president of the Greater Burgess Community Association, said he has not received many calls about this early phase of the project.
“Actually, I’m not hearing an awful lot,” Jordan said. “They’ve been working on the clearing and grubbing and utility relocation. I don’t know if it’s going to be different when the paving actually starts. They’ve kept the two lanes of traffic open during the day and just have had a few nighttime lane closures.”