Myrtle Beach leaders and police are still hammering out plans for Memorial Day weekend, but one thing is set: last year’s 23-mile traffic loop is coming back.
The traffic loop debuted during the holiday weekend in May to keep traffic moving and ease congestion on Ocean Boulevard that officials say led to gridlock and “parking lot parties.” Police called the loop a success last year, although some bikers in town for the Atlantic Beach Bikefest weren’t pleased with the traffic and the missed exits that kept them in the circle.
The loop routes drivers from 29th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach onto 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. It then leads motorists onto S.C. 31 heading north to Grissom Parkway south, then onto U.S. 17 Bypass and back to 29th Avenue North.
Barriers also separated pedestrians from vehicular traffic along five miles of Ocean Boulevard from 29th Avenue North to South Kings Highway.
An update on the traffic management and pedestrian safety plans for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend is one of many topics slated for discussion at a Myrtle Beach City Council budget workshop Thursday.
We have been planning for the last couple of months with city officials, [and we’re] gearing up to start task force meetings again as well.
Myrtle Beach police spokesman Lt. Joey Crosby
“We have been planning for the last couple of months with city officials,” said Myrtle Beach police spokesman Lt. Joey Crosby, and we’re “gearing up to start task force meetings again as well.”
Thousands of visitors come to the Grand Strand during Memorial Day weekend for Atlantic Beach Bikefest or to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.
Planning for the 2015 holiday weekend kicked into high gear after the 2014 Memorial Day weekend when three people died and seven were injured in eight shootings on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. In the months that followed officials made special plans for the holiday weekend to curtail crime, including pulling in even more extra officers from other jurisdictions and setting up a traffic loop lined with barricades.
Authorities called the 2015 Memorial Day weekend a success, reporting 300 fewer arrests and citations than in 2014 and a drop in weapons offenses from 23 in 2014 to six this year. Two shootings were reported that weekend, one involving injuries -- down from eight during the holiday weekend in 2014.
Crosby said it was still too early to tell what logistics for Memorial Day 2016 will look like regarding the amount of officers on patrol and equipment needs, which are still being addressed. He did not know Tuesday when the plans will be finalized.
The council will meet at the Myrtle Beach Sports Center for its last meeting of 2015 at 9 a.m. Thursday. Other items listed for discussion include Ocean Boulevard parking, erosion from flooding at street ends, public safety cameras, downtown issues, an extension of Fred Nash Boulevard to Harrelson Boulevard and the possibility of adding a traffic light at Shetland Lane.
Reach Weaver at 843-444-1722 and follow her on Twitter @TSNEmily.