The end of the road for Backgate construction drives us into new projects

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It's been a long road, but were finally reaching the end when it comes to dealing with construction around the backgate intersection.

The ribbon cutting Thursday, is a sign the growing pains are almost over and construction is nearing completion.

There was confusion earlier in the week, after a delay of opening the southbound bridge. County leaders say the extra day this was pushed back was needed to prep for the traffic transition.

Now the southbound bridge is open, and drivers await for the next step in the process.

The plan, according to the county, is to shut down some northbound lanes overnight, beginning this Sunday, so crews can shift traffic to the bridge. This should take about three days, officially opening the entire bridge Tuesday morning. That is, if weather doesn't get in the way.

The entire project will be substantially completed in November and landscaping will continue into next year.

As this road project is nearing completion, another congested area will be covered with orange cones. Drive just a couple miles down the road, you'll hit that construction zone, Highway 707.

The widening of Highway 707 is the next project, you will notice. County leaders will meet next week for a briefing, to go over the construction timeline, including how it could impact you.

As of now, Highway 707 widening is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2017.

An area also in great need of relief, where we will also see cones and crews, is Glenns Bay Road. The plan is to widen it to three lanes and create an interchange at Highway 17. The first work you'll see is at the end of year. Utilities will be moved and clearing will be happening. To make this work painless, most of the big work should be done overnight.

A slight delay in construction from these projects, pushed back work in other places, like International Drive, which is lower on the Ride II priority list. The road was supposed to be extended to Highway 90 last year, but construction will now begin the beginning of next year, according to county leaders. It will take a year to complete.

There are a total of 15 construction projects in the Ride II Penny Sales tax. Just about half the projects are complete.

Of all the construction projects on that list, the backgate, was the most expensive, costing between $115 to 120 million.The backgate project was originally budgeted at just under $50-million.

Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier says, when all is said and done, money won't be a problem. First, because projects like the Aynor Overpass, were under budget. Secondly, because more money was collected, during the seven year Ride II Penny Sales tax, than expected.

The expected amount the county was to collect was $425 million, they've collected $446 million.

All in all, county leaders say we have plenty of money to finish all 15 projects you voted for.

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