Troopers add back gate to speeding watch list

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As the first lane closures at Myrtle Beach's back gate intersection begin, the South Carolina Highway Patrol is also including the construction zone on its list of specific areas to watch for speeders.

Jessica Stearrett who lives near the intersection has been watching the construction since it officially began in early June. With construction on the sides of the road, she said not much has affected drivers so far.

"They lowered the speed limit to 45, but I don't think people really care," Stearrett said. "I think they even go faster than the original 55 sometimes."

Driver Wayne Mayo admitted he may be part of the problem. He said he has not paid much attention to the construction.

"I thought that it was just 45 right here at this intersection but once you got past it [the speed limit] was 55."

Stearrett would like to see more people paying attention to the speed limit. She said eventually traffic will force drivers to slow down.

"I think they should be getting used to it so that when it does start getting bad with the construction they'll be used to going that speed limit."

Lance Corporal Sonny Collins with the state's Highway Patrol said the construction zone is now on a list of areas that gets special attention from the highway patrol because they are work zones.

"We have a team of troopers that are assigned specifically to work [in] work zones throughout the state, and we have one of those teams right here in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand," Collins said.

He said regularly patrolling troopers will add to the specially assigned troopers. Monday at least two troopers stopped drivers in the area of the back gate. One trooper spent hours patrolling the area.

Isabelle Owens of Myrtle Beach said she has noticed more troopers in the area.

"I've noticed they've been out a lot too - more than one probably on this road," Owens said.

Driver Zachary Clark said he understands the need to get drivers to slow down. He said seeing a trooper would affect his driving.

"It definitely gets my attention. Obviously they're trying to say something and trying to tell people to slow down because they have people working there, and it's not safe to be driving by there 50, 60, sometimes 70 miles per hour," Clark said.

The visible trooper presence comes just in time for this project's first lane closures. Monday night through Thursday night from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. the inside lanes of Highway 17 will be closed.

"People are going to have to be careful, so maybe if they see [a trooper] out there maybe they'll start being careful," Stearrett said.

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