Evacuation route project put on hold

By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A new evacuation route out of the Grand Stand will have to wait until more money comes through to complete the project.

When a hurricane hits, Horry County says they make use of every possible evacuation route to get people out. Currently, the county says it takes roughly 21 hours to evacuate. With all of the growth in the Grand Strand, they say they have simply run out of roads to accommodate all of the traffic.

To alleviate the pressure, the Southern Evacuation Lifeline (SELL) Project has proposed a new route out of the South Strand. Project spokeswoman Debbie Harwell says the limited access road would leave the Southern end of the beach, go across the Waccamaw River, and link up with Highway 22.

State Rep. Nelson Hardwick (R-Horry County) says the project has been a long time coming for the people living in the South Strand.

"Every time we've had a snag on this project we've stepped aside," he told WMBF News. "We've done [Highway] 22 then we've stepped aside and not finished 31 ...  but it's time that we come together and make sure that it gets built for the good of the people down here who have always been concerned about other people getting roads too."

For now, the waiting game continues though as they look to begin the second phase of the project.

Harwell says they have applied for the funding needed, but have not heard anything concrete as of yet. She says the first phase of the project did create an initial proposal for the road.

Harwell says that proposal will likely be tweaked during the second evaluation process due to some opposition the initial route received near the Lakes subdivision area where the road was slated to begin.

"Everybody at some point in time will invoke 'NIMBY,' not in my backyard," Hardwick said, adding that overall the people were supportive because of the general understanding of just how important an evacuation route is for the area.

The proposed route would begin at the intersection of Holmestown Road and Highway 707.

One woman living just up the street from the intersection says she is in support of the development, but on one condition: "We don't want them to come in and take more land," Bridgett Allen told WMBF News.

For now the project remains on hold, waiting until they can obtain the $4 million financial green light to move forward with phase two.

If you want to know which evacuation route is best for you and your family to take, you can call Horry County Emergency Management at 843-915-5150.

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