Some segments of Horry County’s 23-mile traffic loop were flowing freely Saturday night while other stretches of roadway crept along or were stalled due to confusion.
Motorists could fly down S.C. 31 until meeting up with Grissom Parkway, where traffic was more congested than on the freeway. Traffic on U.S. 17 Bypass slowed considerably near 48th Avenue North but picked back up after vehicles that wanted to stay in the loop turned onto 29th Avenue North.
Myrtle Beach police spokesman Lt. Joey Crosby said the loop went well. He said the city changed certain traffic cone and staging patterns, but the operational plan remained the same.
“The overall flow of the loop didn’t change,” Crosby said.
Some bikers didn’t appreciate the loop’s tendency to cause congestion in certain areas.
“All the traffic just sucks,” said Chuck Evans, of Greensboro, N.C. He spent most of Saturday night avoiding Myrtle Beach and the traffic loop, opting to stay north of Myrtle Beach Mall.
The congestion caused by the traffic loop on the northern end of Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach was reason enough to stay in Atlantic Beach.
“It would have been a good idea if they had made all four lanes of the boulevard one way, to move traffic along faster,” Evans said. “But this is just ridiculous.”
Traffic was heavy along roads near the beach Saturday, the second day of Atlantic Beach Bikefest.
The loop, which snarled traffic on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach on Friday night, took effect at 10 p.m. Saturday and remained until 2 a.m. Sunday.
Shemekiah Brown, also from North Carolina, said she tried to stay out of the traffic loop Saturday after being caught on 29th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard for five hours Friday night. She understood why police would want to manage bike week traffic, but said it was unfair that residents and other tourists were affected by the congestion.
“Some people couldn’t even get into their rooms,” Brown said. “I like the extra security, but seeing tired little kids and their parents who can’t get to their hotels was too much for me.”
The loop routes drivers from 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach on Ocean Boulevard south and around to Kings Highway, north to Harrelson Boulevard – which turns into George Bishop Parkway – west to Waccamaw Boulevard, which runs next to U.S. 501, onto S.C. 31 heading north to Grissom Parkway south, then onto U.S. 17 Bypass and down 29th Avenue North.
Officials said establishing a loop, in effect nightly Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., is aimed at keeping traffic moving, because congestion leads to “parking lot parties” that could lead to violence.
Lt. Raul Denis of the Horry County Police Department said at 2:30 a.m. Sunday the loop seemed successful. Denis didn’t know of any problems with the loop outside of Myrtle Beach, but did say some staffing changes were made to improve safety in congested areas.
“We shuffled some people around toward the area of Myrtle Beach Mall, because of all the fatal accidents and heavy traffic yesterday,” Denis said. “But that was really it.”
Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0381 and follow her on Twitter @Claire_TSN.