HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Plans are moving forward and progress is underway on the widening of Highway 707. Construction cones and vehicles already line the majority of the 9.2-mile stretch.
“The contractor has been given the notice to proceed and he will be on site actively working sometime next month,” announced Kimwood Partenheimer, Senior Project Manager with Parsons Brinckerhoff.
It's a milestone for the complex road project underway to widen Highway 707.
“It starts by Enterprise Road and the first mile-and-a-half goes down to the Leonard Road,” demonstrated Partenheimer, on a map stretching the entire wall of a conference room.
Key players met Tuesday to discuss the progress of the project funded by the Penny Sales Tax. The first step is moving utilities so the contractor can get in there and work.
The project is divided into phases: crews from phase one have already moved utility units away from the road to create room for the four-lane highway. This week, crews in that phase are finishing up clearing the area before replacing the drainage system, next month. Meanwhile, crews in phase two are beginning the process to move utilities.
“They're relocating their existing facilities out beyond the sidewalk. Whether they're underground or overhead, all of that has to be relocated,” explained Partenheimer.
Moving the poles far enough out to create a four-lane highway is only one part of the improvements to the busy highway.
Crews will construct sound walls near homes and neighborhoods to cut down on the noise of traffic. A traffic light has also been added to the busy Big Block Road intersection.
“That signal was energized last week and is now functioning as designed. All the pavement is in place,” said Partenheimer.
In addition, there will be a center turn lane and sidewalks.
“Highway 707 is partially that way until Enterprise, so we'll continue that look all the way through,” mentioned Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier during the meeting.
At the end of the road, Highway 707 will look similar to Highway 544.
“Our hope is once the utilities are done in phase 3 the contractor can work down there and have crews work on both ends towards the middle,” said Partenheimer, explaining the work has a domino effect with crews moving through different stages in each phase of the project.
The senior project manager admits the clearing and grubbing project is already a couple of months behind schedule
“We had an excessive amount of rain this year,” said Partenheimer.
In addition, the start of the school year posed a challenge as St. James High School sits squarely in the middle of the construction site.
“The beginning of the school year is always a challenge, but we've been working closely with them to make sure the buses get there on time,” assured Partenheimer.
Even with that delay, the senior project manager said the contractor expects to wrap up the project by August 31, 2017. Crews could being putting down pavement as early as Summer 2015.