Construction at Backgate pushed back by winter storms, county official says

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The contractor for the Backgate construction project on Highway 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach has pushed the estimated completion date back three months to November 2014. It was originally set to be complete August 2014.

According to Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier, DOT project manager Mike Barbee cited two winter ice storms as the reason for the timeline being pushed back. This came to light Friday during the Horry County Council Budget Retreat.

Construction on a grade-separated interchange at the intersection of 17 Bypass and SC Highway 707 began back in the Spring of 2011. It was previously expected to be completed in August, Bourcier said.

The project manager also added that the soil in the area is bad, which led to a price increase from the original estimate.

Workers must let the dirt settle after it's placed, then go back and check its stability before continuing with the creation of the road. If the dirt moves, more must be added until the ground is stable and compact.

Bourcier believes that the interchange bridge will be completed in September. Traffic will then be directed onto it, allowing for completion of the on and off ramps.

The original contract included financial incentives totaling $1.2 million if the contractor finishes early. It is now assured that the contractor will not collect these incentives because of the revised timeline, Bourcier confirmed.

Mike Barbee with the SCDOT explained the $1.2 million allotted as an incentive to wrap up on time will go back into the Riding on a Penny fund to budget other county road projects.

While the contractor loses out on the incentive, he could also be charged for the delay.

Barbee said the window of time until the contractor has to pay penalties and how much that will be is yet to be determined.

The SCDOT, he explained, and Horry County will sit down to discuss the number of days they are willing to forgive because of uncontrollable factors, such as weather.

Under this project, there are no current plans to remove the stop light by Palmetto Pointe Blvd, but double left turn lanes will be put in. The SCDOT, according to Barbee, will continue to study that intersection.

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