HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) With the new lane open on Highway 501, drivers can now see a distinct difference between the Northbound and Southbound lanes on the highway. It will be this way for a while, because it could be years before more construction happens on the heavily-traveled roadway.
The latest from the South Carolina Department of Transportation is that it will be at least four years before work will begin to widen the lanes for traffic heading to the beach. One of the Horry County construction engineers explains this is because there are other higher priority projects next in line to go under construction. Plus, the southbound lanes project will be more complicated and more expensive. It's partly because the drains are larger on the southbound side so more work will have to be done, plus more extensive utility work. The price reflects that, as the work on this side is expected cost $7 million, nearly double the number that was spent on the northbound lanes.
Drivers understand they may have to wait.
"Unless they get money from the federal government or some other place, where else are they going to get it?", asked area driver David Hosler. "The people here are taxed enough."
"Well they should have made better planning," said local driver Russell Latiolais. "But they have to do what they have to do with the expenses that they have."
The southbound widening project is scheduled to be designed in 2016, and then construction is expected to start sometime in 2018. This is actually perfect timing for SCDOT, because although the agency has identified all the necessary funding sources, it should be available for the project by then.