The new traffic patterns at the intersection will start Thursday at 5 a.m.
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Starting Thursday morning, drivers will notice a big change at the intersection of Harrelson Boulevard and JetPort Road.
Starting Thursday at 5 a.m., that intersection will be the Myrtle Beach International Airport's new entrance. Traffic patterns and the roads you use to come into MYR will change.
Before Thursday, anyone entering or leaving the airport does so through the entrance on Harrelson Boulevard and Hwy 15 but that entrance is closing.
The new entrance is closer to the new glass façade terminal currently under construction. Other immediate changes travelers can expect will be to the entrance to the economy parking lot.
Airport officials say there will be signage throughout the grounds to help direct people. MYR Marketing Director Kirk Lovell said the airport will work diligently to assure there is no confusion after all the changes are made.
"The biggest obstacle will be reeducating people, especially the local people who have been coming here and experiencing the same thing for year after year," Lovell said.
Another change that will go into place Thursday morning is people dropping or picking up fliers will no longer be able to sit and wait for their loved ones. Airport officials call it a new, "bump and go" system. Drivers will be allowed to quickly drop off their friends and family and must quickly move on. Security will direct anyone who expects to take extra time to the brand new 40 parking space cell phone lot. The lot will serve as a place people can go and call their family/friends who are inside the airport. Officials said it'll make everything flow smoother, but Lovell said he does expect some confusion with the change.
"That is one of those things that's changing. It will be a learning curve. If they're used to sitting there and having that convenience. You can walk right out to the car, that's a little bit of a change. But it is for safety," Lovell said.
Lovell added, the short term parking lot, which is not a new addition allows people to park for free, the first twenty minutes they are there.
Lovell said the changes are expected to reap positive reaction from travelers.
"Obviously the new entrance, once everyone understands the flow it's actually a lot more convenient. There's a lot more space to enter. There's a lot more space to get back onto Harrelson. Currently we're on two lanes and there's now multiple turn lanes," Lovell said.
Also on tap to open this month, is the new stand alone car rental facility. This will move car rental operations out of the existing terminal and into the new building.
Frequent flyers look forward to the transformation.
"That was the biggest thing. You rent a car here and then you had to take the bus and get dropped off. That'll be nice if it's all in one center. That'll be much easier," expresses traveler Kelly Robinson.
Right across the street from the new entrance to the airport is the Whispering Pines Golf Course, and the folks who run the course say they're hoping the course impresses visitors.
They want to show guests to the Grand Strand they have arrived to a golf destination.
Management says the new entrance could help market Myrtle Beach as a golf destination, since the golf course will be the very first thing people see when they're leaving airport grounds.
"Just looking forward to that entrance opening up, and when [visitors] drive out and they don't have anything to do. Hit some balls and come out and play nine or 18 before they check-in, here we are. Looking forward to it," nods Allen Chasteen Manager of Whispering Pines Golf Course.
Whispering Pines has had some improvements over the last few months to prepare for the airport's new entrance, and so far this year, business has been on par with last.
The course managers are hoping the new traffic rolling through Jet Port Drive will make its way into their course.
As far as seeing a real boost in business, Chasteen expects by spring they'll see numbers really start to climb.
The new traffic patterns at the intersection starts Thursday at 5 a.m.
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