CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Council is considering a change that could help reduce traffic congestion during some upcoming road construction projects. The change could also help the projects stay on schedule.
The projects include overpasses at the "backgate," widening of Highway 707 and Glenns Bay Road and the next phase of the Highway 31 extension. Road construction for some of those projects is scheduled to begin in October.
Since the projects are major undertakings, Horry County Council anticipates a lot of the work may need to be done at night. However, the county currently has a nighttime noise ordinance that could interfere.
Specifically, the ordinance prohibits several concrete plants in the county from operating between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. because they are too loud. Much of the construction may depend on concrete being readily available, and if it cannot be delivered at night the road work could not be done at night either.
The noise ordinance protects homeowners who live near some of the concrete plants.
"Working at night is a serious hamper to their quality of life," Horry County Councilman Marion Foxworth commented.
So now council is trying to figure out how to allow some concrete plants to operate at night as a benefit to the road projects without upsetting homeowners near some plants. Council is considering a process that would allow the concrete plants to apply for a special events permit to operate overnight to find that balance.
The plants would be placed in categories based on how close they are to homes, if the business or home was in place first and other criteria. Each request would then be reviewed and those found to be in the category with the least negative impact could get approval to operate at night.
"The problem is how do you craft an ordinance now, at this date, that allows for the operation of those plants [far from homes] and still maintain the quality of life for the folks living in the areas where batch plants are in close proximity to their homes," Foxworth said.
If the council moves forward with the proposal it would have to pass three readings. If there are no delays in the process, the change could be effective in September, just in time for some of the road construction projects to begin.
Although working at night can help reduce traffic congestion during road construction and keep projects on schedule, some contractors say they would rather work in daylight.
Generally workers feel safer in construction zones during the day, and they are able to see better, improving quality. Nonetheless, sometimes work is required or preferred at night to prevent interference with traffic or to prevent delays in completion.