Residents say drivers illegally cutting through Stonebridge to avoid backgate

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - No one likes sitting in traffic, and one of the worst spots for it in the Myrtle Beach area is the backgate. One community says drivers are trying to avoid going through the backgate intersection by driving illegally through their neighborhood.

The speed limit on Stonebridge Drive is 15 miles per hour, and there are even speed bumps along the road to remind drivers to keep it slow. But drivers cruise past the speed limit signs and fly over the bumps, and neighbors say it's becoming a real safety issue.

It's not legal to turn left onto Stonebridge Drive from Palmetto Pointe Boulevard, but drivers do it all day long. Drivers are using Stonebridge to avoid the Palmetto Pointe and backgate intersections, because it connects Palmetto Pointe Boulevard to Highway 707, and runs parallel to 17 Bypass.

Neighbors and businesses on Stonebridge Drive say this has been a problem for a while, but the amount of traffic has increased since construction started at the backgate.

The county says the road isn't designed to be a through-way for traffic, and signage echoes that, but drivers are ignoring the signs. Neighbors say it's dangerous for adults, and for kids in the neighborhood.

"My mail box has been hit several times," says homeowner Tracy Perdue, who lives on Stonebridge Drive. "We've had cars down in the ditch. At my ditch-line, a car went down in, hit the culvert, jumped it, and went over and hit the mailbox and never stopped. Took off.  My neighbor's mailbox has been hit ten times since I've lived here and I've lived here for over 10 years now."

Horry County says it is aware of the problem, but there isn't much else it can do aside from the illegal left turn and "No Thru-Way" signs and speed bumps. The problem has been around since before the construction started, when the developments up and down Palmetto Pointe Boulevard were built.

People who work and live nearby say no one observes the speed limit signs, or any other the others for that matter.

"A school bus was stopped, letting off kids and a car just cut out and went around the school bus," says Perdue. "It's a two-lane road and to be passing other cars on it, especially in the curbs, that's very dangerous."

"There's speeding just about all day but the trash gets pretty bad, especially I find they throw a lot of trash out on the weekends, but I usually fill a bag up once a week," comments Mike Stead, who owns Stonebridge Office Center which is right beside Palmetto Pointe Boulevard.

Littering seems to be a big problem on the road. And Stead eventually had to resort to building cement columns for his mailboxes after they were taken out twice by drivers. He says even though police officers sit in his parking lot pulling over drivers, it doesn't stop the through traffic or speeding.

What they need to do is alleviate the traffic from Palmetto Pointe Boulevard by opening up a new entrance on the back end," Stead suggests. "That's what's going to have to happen."

And the county says that will happen, it just doesn't know when. Palmetto Pointe Boulevard is mainly residential developments and the end of it hasn't been finished. But one of the requirements for the company that develops the farthest neighborhood is to attach Palmetto Pointe Boulevard to Highway 544 so drivers have another way to get where they need to go.

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