NMB burying utilities, improving safety during hurricanes

North Myrtle Beach, SC - By Greg Argos - bio | email

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Driving down Ocean Drive in North Myrtle Beach, you may notice a lot of construction. The city is working to put all above-ground utilities below your feet and out of sight.

"The first project we completed was on Main Street," explained Public Works Director Kevin Blayton.

The Main Street product was complete nearly eight years ago. Now Blayton says the project is still in full swing.

"We've done many miles since then and we have many projects under construction at any given time," he said.

Blayton says the project is two fold. It's primary goal is to protect property during a hurricane.

"The high winds tend to pull the lines down. They pull trees into the power lines and that brings the lines down. The wood poles snap," he described.

It's secondary purpose is to beautify the city.

"It's less visual clutter. It makes the city look better," stated Blayton.

There are some drawbacks to the projects, like traffic detours during construction and the cost, which only allows about eight blocks to be completed each year, according to Blayton.

He says it can cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million per block. Some of that money is bankrolled by the city of North Myrtle Beach. Some of the other money comes from Santee Cooper.

The end goal of the project is to have the entire city's utilities underground. There is no word on when that goal can be reached.

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