MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Highway 707 widening project is moving forward, and officials with the South Carolina Department of Transportation say they have spent more than the past two years working on designs and getting the environmental approval to continue with the project.
In the meantime, people living in the area are frustrated with the state of traffic along the roadway.
"We have a mess," said Melissa Bennett, who lives along the roadway. "It's got to get better. This road is constantly busy."
Bennett says when she moved into her home off SC-707 in 1987 it was a different view.
"Nothing like this," she stated matter-of-factly. "It was so deserted."
As traffic picked up, so did talk of widening the road, Bennett says. But she has yet to see any shovels dig in.
"It's been about 10 years now," she said. "We've been waiting 10 years and we're still waiting."
DOT says they are currently working to get the land they need from some 400 landowners like Bennett before they can start the project.
Until then, drivers are having to wait behind the wheel.
"I've sat for five to 10 minutes sometimes to try and get out, traffic's so bad," said Jason Leitholf, who lives in a subdivision off 707 across from Big Block Road. Leitholf added getting out of the subdivision sometimes takes professional driving skills. "I call it the Earnhardt. You've got to kind of jump on 'em sometimes, and you're taking a risk every time you do it."
Bennett agreed: "Oh, it's crazy. You're sitting anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes a day to get out. If you have to leave at 5 o'clock, forget it."
If by some chance 707 is not congested, they say the concern then turns to speeding.
"We've got people that race up and down this road all of the time," Bennett said, noting she is tired of the seemingly endless stream of wrecks and congestion; she's ready to see the construction begin. "I want to say we suffer between one and three every other week and some of them are fatalities. People are suffering and losing family members because there's nowhere to go for a wreck."
SCDOT says in addition to adding a lane on both sides of the roadway and an additional turn lane in the middle, they will also be installing a light at Big Block Road.
The project is expected to take roughly three years to complete.
SCDOT says to keep people informed on a project like this they post signs along the roadway informing people about public hearings, release information on the county's cable access channel and post information at ridingonapenny.com.
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