MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Planners with the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study are asking for the public's input about some proposed road improvements.
The proposals are new parts of the GSATS five-year plan for the urban areas of Horry and Georgetown Counties. The original parts have already been approved, meaning the funding is in place and some projects are underway. The previously approved plan includes projects such as the extension of Highway 31, the overpass construction at the "backgate" of the old Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, and several intersection improvements.
The 24 new proposals are all intersection improvement projects in the two counties. GSATS planner Mark Hoeweler said most of them have been added to the plan because new federal stimulus money is available. Now those new proposals have to be approved.
Approval of the new projects is expected Friday, but before then the public is invited to public input sessions. Two public input session were held in the Grand Strand Wednesday. Three others are planned before Friday. All written comments received on or before June 24 will be considered.
Hoeweler said improvements to intersections can significantly decrease traffic congestion and accidents for a relatively small financial investment. He said even small changes can make a noticeable difference.
"Adding a left turn lane or a right turn lane can really improve the functionality and at the same time improve safety," Hoeweler explained.
Like the projects already included in the five-year plan, the 24 new intersection projects are in the works based on need and feedback from local leaders and citizens.
The intersection of Singleton Ridge Road and Technology Boulevard is just one example. The intersection is often busy with drivers heading to Horry Georgetown Technical College, Coastal Carolina University and the Conway Medical Center.
"It's a nightmare situation," commented Kara Allen who works just down the road from the intersection at the University Suites apartments. "I don't like to leave at lunch. It's crazy. I've been almost hit a few times. It's a mess all the way around. When students get out of school we're backed up all the way past our property here."
In addition to seeing a lot of traffic, the intersection also lacks a traffic light. Drivers like Coleeta Simmons also said it can be confusing and difficult to navigate because three different roads meet at strange angles.
"It's like you have to make a right and then you just have to turn in very quickly and try not to get hit," Simmons said.
Allen and Simmons said they are glad to hear changes are coming within the next five years. They said they support the other intersection improvements too if they are as badly needed as the ones at Singleton Ridge Road
"Any proposal at all is better than what's out there right now," Allen said.