Big changes in the future for Highway 501 in Carolina Forest

Plans made to improve appearance of Highway 501

CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - Beginning in April, many changes will be made to Highway 501 in Carolina Forest. From Waccamaw Pines Drive to the Intracoastal Waterway, a beautification project will change the way the medians look to drivers. Right now most of the medians on that particular stretch of road are flat and grassy. After the beautification project is complete mid-May, there will be 85 crepe myrtles, 32 sabal palms, 126 tea olive bushes, 192 shrubs and 498 decorative grasses on the medians.

The project is estimated to cost $85,000. $50,000 of the funds will come from the Horry County Accommodations Tax, which is a tax that adds $0.03 of sales tax to hotel, motel and condo room rentals. Proceeds from the tax must be spent on tourism related improvements.

The remaining $30,000 will come from the county's tree mitigation funds. The county receives that money from developers pay the county when they remove trees from their property.

"Carolina Forest has been underrepresented for a long time. And a lot of the tax dollars that are being paid by residents in this community don't necessarily come back to this community so it's nice to see that things are finally heading in the right direction," Carolina Forest Civic Association Spokesperson Dennis DiSabato said.

Some drivers said they would like to see changes made to the traffic and the traffic lights in Carolina Forest before beautification efforts take place.

"When I'm coming home, it takes me forever to get home. And if I was a tourist, I'd be annoyed at that light," Carolina Forest Resident Anna Vaupel said.

DiSabato said the beautification project will attract people to the community and draw in new business. DiSabato agreed there are infrastructure needs in the community, but he said the project shows the county is taking notice in Carolina Forest.

"I think it's been a few years in the making where we're trying to let them know we have specific needs that have not been addressed in a long time. Over the past two or three years we've been moving in the right direction," DiSabato said.

Vaupel said she thinks the trees should be an afterthought to the traffic problems

"The trees. Forget about the trees. Concentrate on increasing the flow of traffic on 501. Once that's fixed, then worry about the trees," Vaupel said.

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