Speed Patrol: Seaboard Street Improvements

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Major improvements are coming to what some officials have called "one of the most dangerous intersections" in the Grand Strand.

The intersection is located at Seaboard Street and Oak Forest Lane off US-501 in Myrtle Beach.

For many drivers, they say the $500,000 project has been a long time coming. Ida Egan and her husband say that pulling out onto Seaboard from Walmart often takes the focus of two drivers.

"I look in one direction, he looks in the other," Egan said. "I yell to him 'I'm OK' and he says 'I'm not.'"

She says sometimes they just have to go for it and hope for the best.

"It's scary," Egan admitted. "It has always been scary."

She says like most drivers, they are curious about the changes going in on the roadway.

"We took out the planted medians, put in left turn lanes," began Jeff Thomas, the traffic engineering coordinator for Myrtle Beach. "We're adding a traffic signal and we're going to coordinate this signal with the signal at [Highway] 501 and Seaboard."

He says at first he was hesitant knowing the short distance between the 501 intersection and the new intersection.

"Any time you have two signals that close together it is extremely hard to make it work together, but we're going to make it work because the safety is that important," Thomas said, noting that with any new light, the timing is not always perfect. "There's still going to be congestion between the two signals just because you only have a couple hundred feet to work [with]. But they will work together as much as possible."

He says to help ease the process, an extensive traffic study was conducted which involved signal timings and the development of simulation programs. Thomas says they will also be constantly re-evaluating the timings after the project is complete so they can make any needed adjustments.

The project involves a long list of improvements, but they are ones that statistics show are necessary.

"This intersection several years ago was put on a priority list," Thomas explained. "It had the No. 1 rating for intersections to get work on."

Thomas says even after safety improvements go in, drivers still need to do their part to minimize crash risks.

"Everybody needs to follow the speed limit of 25 [mph]," he emphasized. "In a congested area, the slower you go the better you are. You can stop your car quicker if somebody pulls out or does something unexpected."

He says drivers should also slow down because of the uneven roadway.

"We have to mill the road up in order to do the median repair and put in the turn lane," Thomas explained.

He says they milled-up the road several hundred feet back so when they come back and do all of the finish work there is one smooth, complete level of asphalt rather than a bunch of pieces where water can get in and the road can break down.

Drivers looking to avoid the construction all together can use Grissom Parkway off of Highway 501 and either cut up Oak Forest to Walmart or Pine Island Road to land them closer the mall area.

The roadway paving portion of the project is expected to finish up in the next few weeks. Light installation is expected to begin in early July with the entire project wrapping up later that month.

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