Concerns grow over possible bridge closing

North Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Many people who live in the Barefoot Resort area are concerned major repairs to the nearby swing bridge will close it completely for months and be a major inconvenience.

"That bridge is still the main entrance and exit [to our community]," Barefoot Resort homeowner Carl Freeman commented.

While the bridge is regularly impassible for a few minutes, Freeman is just one homeowner worried those repairs will close the span for four months.

Others say they are happy to use the other way in and out of the community via Watertower Road.

"We've got adjusted to the new exit out of here now," Jerry Andrews said. "It's not a big deal either way."

However, Freeman said closing the bridge for repairs and using Watertower Road would add significant time his daily travel. His wife would have to drive an extra 20 minutes to work.

"You're talking about them taking a really long and convoluted route just maybe to get to work or to a bank, or go to the Wal-greens pharmacy up on the corner," Freeman said.

There are also concerns that closing the bridge force emergency responders to take a longer way into the Barefoot community.

The bridge repairs are slated to begin in late August, and if it is closed completely for four months, people who live in the area are not the only ones who could be inconvenienced. It could impact golf courses that rely on business during a popular time of year.

"If it prohibits us from allowing traffic onto the resort. It would impact us greatly," said Mike Ross with the Barefoot Resort and Golf.

Current estimates show closing the bridge completely would cost the city about two million dollars. Council is also considering leaving one lane open during repairs, although that would take two extra months and another $700,000.

"It's currently the council's position that we don't want to close it completely," North Myrtle Beach City Councilman Greg Duckworth said. "Now if that is the decision that is made, it's going to be a decision made with the residents of Barefoot and the business of Barefoot. We're not going to unilaterally do this without their input."

As city council members consider what to do about the bridge repairs, they are considering having the project re-bidded to reduce the cost. They also are evaluating the originally planned process to determine if the paint removal can be done safely.

If they decide to re-bid, it could give them even more options to consider.

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