MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach says a major sewer line replacement project is expected to wrap up by the end of the week.
The $2.7 million project stretches from 29th Avenue North to 48th Avenue North along the US-17 Bypass. It is the first of a series of projects that will ultimately replace the entire length of an aging 30-year-old pipe.
"It's under difficult circumstances," City spokesperson Mark Kruea explained. "It's been in the ground dealing with sewage for 30 years. It was time for it to be replaced."
Kruea says the line had been experiencing some leaks that required emergency repairs.
The city says the project was initially slated to be complete by late April, adding that they work hard to plan projects around the main tourism season.
"I like to think of it as construction season - those six months of the year when it's not quite so busy - and then tourism season," Kruea said. "Sometimes a project is more than six months long; sometimes there's an emergency, but we do try not to disrupt the main tourism season."
Kruea says there is still some paving to do around the intersections where the new line crosses under the roadway from the median to the old line on the western side of the roadway.
While drivers have had to deal with intermittent lane closures and slowed speeds, daytime drivers have been spared the biggest stink of construction.
"We have done almost all of this work at night, mainly because US 17 is a very busy road and we're trying not to disrupt it as much as possible," Kruea said.
Over the last week, crews have been tying up loose ends, connecting the old section of the 30-inch sewer line to a new portion.
"It's a good thing," James Mueller said. "The bypass gets pretty busy sometimes during rush hour, and if they can do most of the work at night when there's very little traffic. To me that makes a lot of sense."
The overnight work also spared his sense of smell from the overpowering stench of progress as workers tapped into the active sewer line.
"[As for] the smell part, if I'm sleeping I probably wouldn't smell anything so that would be fine with me," Mueller said.
People living in Myrtlewood seem to share Mueller's outlook on the project: they're willing to put up with a little hassle in the short run if it will help things flow better down the road.
"It's an inconvenience, but my feeling is if it's something that's going to improve around here that's good in the long run," Steve Demoraes said.
"Public Works projects are just complicated," Kruea added. "You're talking about roads that people use and sewer lines that they use, as well, so there's a little bit of inconvenience for a better product in the end."
The full replacement of the aging pipeline that extends for miles will be years in the making.
"Ultimately, we need to replace all the way up to Briarcliff Acres," Kruea explained. "But that's going to take several years and a fair amount of money to do. This is the most critical piece of it that we're getting done right now."
Kruea says the city is working to allocate capital improvement funds to initiate the replacement of the next portion of the sewer line.