MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – An open forum was held Thursday at the Burgess Community Center to give residents a closer look at the plans to expand Highway 707. A packed house filled the small venue, with people anxious to express their concerns over the pending construction.
Engineers with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) say the busy roadway has had traffic issues for years and this new widening project will help alleviate some of the bottleneck. The blueprints call for the two lane roadway to be widened to five lanes with a turn lane in the middle.
"Right now we are working on trying to acquire a permit to actually go to construction and we anticipate getting that permit approved," said Leah Quattlebaum, a project manager with SCDOT.
The entire project, which is estimated to cost between $100 million and $120 million, is funded through the Riding on a Penny sales tax, which the county implemented three years ago.
People who live and work near the busy roadway threw some tough questions at SCDOT officials during the forum. Several people expressed concerns over how the construction will affect their property values and if they could expect increased noise in their neighborhoods.
But other people like Richard Anthony, who lives near Highway 707, say they're anxious for the road project to get underway.
"With all the new communities that are going in down here we definitely need a bigger road and wider road," said Anthony. "It's very dangerous trying to get out on this road at any given point in time so with two lanes going in each direction and a center lane for turning it'll make it a lot better."
SCDOT officials hope to have all their permits acquired by next spring. They estimate the entire project will take three years to complete.