Backgate overpass completed; confusion still exists for drivers - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Backgate overpass completed; confusion still exists for drivers

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Now that the Backgate overpass is completed, people who live, work and have to drive through another intersection right down the road are confused about the changes.

Many people still feel unsafe and confused because of the changes. Drivers don't know where to go or when to turn while crossing or turning onto the Bypass from Palmetto Pointe Boulevard and Tabernacle Drive, right across the street.

"No one knows what they're doing,” says Will Renke the owner of Sky Fitness just of Palmetto Pointe Boulevard. “There's so much confusion that on a continuous basis, I see at least one accident every couple days."

Part of the construction on the Backgate project included adding an additional left turn lane off Palmetto Pointe Boulevard. Now, the lights to cross or turn onto Highway 17 from the intersection don't change at the same time. People say it's dangerous.

First, the left arrow turns green. Then, red, then the other lights to go straight, turn green. No one knows where to stop because there are three turn lanes and four traffic lights.

"You only have four lights but three lanes, so where do you go?" Renke asks. "It seems like people are blocking that intersection and then when you're trying to cross over the highway, you have people in the middle of the road. Then, it backs over the other side and people aren't even in a lane anymore. It doesn't make sense and it's causing a lot, a lot of problems."

On Tabernacle Drive, there are issues as well. 

Crews on both sides of the Bypass never removed the road paint telling drivers where to turn when they added new lights and lanes, so there is no clear indicator. Some drivers coming off Tabernacle Drive sit in the middle of the road, which is across from the left turn traffic light, which used to be the turning lane. 

But that isn't a lane now, even though the old lane is still painted. Outside of that is a circle, painted in double-yellow lines. Drivers wait and wait for the light to change, and when it doesn't because they're not in the right lane, they end up running through a red light because a cars begin to stack.

The SCDOT, which was in charge of overseeing and completing the Backgate project for the county, told WMBF News most work at these intersections is already done. A representative says they will continue looking at issues like signal timing.

"Green should be green for both sides, left and straight. And that would pretty much fix that problem," Renke adds.

But the SCDOT representative was not aware there are more stop lights than there are lanes.

Businesses nearby say something has to change.

"A common thing my members say is 'I almost got into an accident coming here,'" Renke says. "I must have heard that at least once a week. And that's not something you want to hear everyday."

Other business owners have similar stories.

One owner says before all the changes to the lanes and stoplights, her restaurant was packed at lunch time. Now, they're lucky to have a few patrons because people don't want to deal with the confusion.

She says there have been instances where drivers confused about the lanes, got out of their cars and into verbal fights. If the confusing lanes don't cause an accident, she says she's worried someone will physically injure someone else.

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