HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Horry County Engineers said plans are underway for the International Drive paving project, but it could be quite a while before people see progress.
According to Horry County Engineer Andrew Markunas, it could be 2013 before the project could start. Then it could take about a year to construct the paving all the way up to Highway 90.
Officials said right now they are still waiting for the county to get environmental permits, right of way acquisition and the final designs for the road.
Gus Haramis, owner of Costas Pizzeria said paving International Drive for five miles up to Highway 90 would benefit his business. Haramis said, "I would like to see it as a priority because it will bring business in the area, business needs traffic and traffic is good for everyone."
Others would like an alternate route to get to Conway as well as another Hurricane Evacuation route. Connie Huddle said, "Since this area has developed to the degree that it is, and I have to agree with another route out I see the benefits of that."
Principal Huddle of Ocean Bay Middle School said the new road could present some challenges. Huddle stated, "We'll see an increase in the traffic in a school area and that is critical for safety, for the well being of our staff, students, and parents."
Huddle said she will begin reviewing plans for how to get students safely picked up and dropped off for school while accommodating for more cars on the road.
Meanwhile, Horry County engineers are also in the planning stages for the International Drive paving project. Markunas said, "It's in a flat area…a lot of wetlands. The fact is we need environmental permits to mitigate for our impact."
Markunas said another challenge is elevating the road for wildlife crossings which he said added significantly to the projects's 15 million dollar price tag.
Markunas added, "We have to raise the road up in order to meet design criteria. That is a lot of road we're raising and lowering to get over these animal crossings."
Markunas said two other road widening projects including Glenns Bay and 707 have to get underway before International Drive starts.
Markunas added, "Those projects aren't scheduled for letting until a year from now and that's why we're saying we can't begin international drive until about a year from now because at that point we'll have more definite costs."
This project is number 13 on the Riding on a Penny program's list of projects to be completed.