Big progress ahead for Backgate Overpass Project

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - State Department of Transportation officials say work remains on schedule at the site of the new Backgate Overpass, an estimated $115 million project.

Over the last few weeks, contractors have been mechanically re-enforcing soil at the site of the project, before actual ramp parts for the east side of the overpass arrive in mid-October.

County engineer Steve Gosnell says the soil had to be re-enforced because it isn't strong enough to support a bridge and overpass in its current state. He says it's a common problem road projects run into in coastal areas.

The re-enforcement of the poor soil has contributed to an increase in the overall project's cost and workload.

The Backgate Overpass Project was originally budgeted to cost $49.5 million, when it was first included in Horry County's Riding on a Penny 1-cent sales tax referendum in 2006. Gosnell says the price tag has skyrocketed to $115 million because of land acquisition costs, design and construction costs.

Gosnell says the county originally priced the project according to the average budget needed to build an overpass of its size.

The project's rising cost will not affect taxpayers in Horry County, according to officials. Extra money from recent road projects that have come in under budget will pay the difference.

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