MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The intersection of SC707 and Highway 17 Bypass was closed overnight Tuesday as the Backgate continues to undergo major changes.
Contractors were out at the intersection Tuesday night, installing an overhang bracket, tightening bolts on the bridge, and removing a wooden protective structure. Basically, no left hand turns were allowed until 6 a.m. Wednesday. While the lane closures are temporary, a more permanent change is being made further down 707.
"I've never really had a problem with it slowing down my business, but today it's done it for us," said Robyn Wilson with This Is It Unisex Barber Shop and Hair Salon. The business she manages sits in the middle of the construction site. Tuesday's slow down was caused by crews putting in a cement median.
"The slowing down, the congestion, making the traffic one lane – it's really slowing people down, people are getting frustrated," Wilson said.
The new median will keep people from turning left from westbound 707 into the CVS and Northgate Plaza.
"For safety purposes, I think it would be great," Wilson said, "but as far as business, all I can do is hope and pray that people find the way and get here because they like my business."
Safety is the reason, the county says, to keep traffic from cutting across oncoming traffic. Once traffic transitions to the bridge, cycle times will change on 707 and Farrow Parkway to keep the flow of traffic going.
"It's more convenient for me to take the service road and come through this way and come through the parking lot," Wilson said.
Until that change, locals like Wilson are taking shortcuts on service roads and Coalition Drive where drivers can turn into the back of the plaza.
"It's backed up probably a half a mile down the road," said Jimmy Register, who works at The Pawn Shop. The back-up is backing up business, he says, slowing things down at his store near the light on Coalition Drive. "I'm sure they're just bypassing the businesses; they'd rather not put up with the congestion."
Jimmy Register hopes when construction clears up, the new median will get more people to the shop, but he also worries the intersection by Palmetto Pointe is pointless.
"What's the point of the overpass if you don't take out that light? It's what is backing up traffic," he said.
Under this project - there are no currently plans to remove the stop light by Palmetto Pointe Boulevard. Double left turn lanes will be put in, and SCDOT will continue to study that intersection to see what changes need to be made down the road.