International Drive: When will the wait be over? - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

International Drive: When will the wait be over?

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - If it seems like international Drive is the only project that's not underway yet, that's because it is. Of all the projects on the Ride II Penny Sales Tax list, it is the only one that has yet to see any construction.

With an original completion date of 2013, the community expressed being beyond ready for relief. 

Construction is expected early this year, according to Horry County leaders, but when WMBF News asked for a more concrete date, they said they won't have one until they bid the project.

Once construction actually begins, the project to pave and widen International Drive should only take a year, according to officials. 

The work will connect the fast-growing Carolina Forest area to Highway 90. The project will reduce congestion on Highway 501, which can be a nightmare for drivers, like Kari Haimel.

Haimel said the road expansion brought her family to Carolina Forest, knowing there's growth down the road for everyone.

"My husband does a lot of traveling, so it would be an easy route to take to jump out and kind of do a bypass of 501, to get to go where he needs to go,” said Haimel. “That was a big selling point, and I just think it would bring a lot more traffic to the area as well."

Before that can happen, the county is waiting on permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Construction can begin as soon those permits are issued and the county chips away at other projects.

The permits holding up this project are the same ones that delayed other road construction projects on the Ride II List.

Drivers are getting tired of that delay.

"Construction here takes a really long time, I've noticed, but hopefully that's almost done,” said Haimel.

Unfortunately, International Drive paving and widening is behind about a dozen other projects on the Ride II priority list. The backgate is one of those projects, which is nearly complete.

"I was out there this weekend, and out to market commons, very smooth sailing, it makes a huge, huge difference,” said Haimel.

The county is now working on making that same difference, elsewhere, like on Highway 707, Glenns Bay Road, and highway 31, all undergoing construction. Those projects are on schedule to wrap up in 2017.

While improvements on International Drive may be a ways off, some say the final product will be worth the wait.

"Everywhere in Myrtle Beach, you have to drive to,” said Haimel. “I think it's huge, you've gotta have the infrastructure."
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