MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As Memorial Day weekend draws near, the plans for Bikefest are revving up.
The Bikefest Task Force met Thursday afternoon in Myrtle Beach. The group was created last fall to help plan the intricate details of dealing with Bikefest and how to handle the event. All our major local and state safety and law departments are part of the task force. They meet to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Here's a list of the topics discussed:
1. Over-all event coordination
2. Traffic management discussion
3. Law enforcement update
4. Medical Treatment/transport update
5. Communications update
6. Joint information center update
7. Community outreach update (Uniformed messaging website/videos)
At this point, there are no real surprises to the different operational plans. What the task force is doing now is fine-tuning things. At past meetings, each department admitted needing more help and have since reached out to hundreds of other departments across the state and country for support. Randy Webster, the director of Horry County Emergency Management, says they still do not have an official count of how much backup they'll get. But he says they are getting closer to an exact number.
"Each jurisdiction has its autonomy,” says Webster. “And as a task force, we're trying to make sure all that comes together on a higher level of coordination. But there's still a lot of communication going back and forth. Coordination with response plans, especially from law enforcement, fire rescue, and the medical component."
Business owners and residents along Ocean Boulevard, an area severely affected by Bikefest, are hoping everything does go as planned. Because if it does, they are anticipating things to be much smoother compared to years past.
"Because we're surrounded by the traffic loop, the barricades that will be in place to implement this loop, will protect us greatly,” says Craig Teller. Teller is the coordinator for the South Myrtle Beach Neighborhood watch group. “And with a few tweaks that we suggested, I think we're satisfied that this really is a good first step to solving some of the problems we had last year."
Webster, says so far, they've had a mixed reaction from people to all the plans. But the bottom line is they want everyone to be aware of what is happening. The fewer surprises, the less chance people have of getting upset or confused.
Last week was the first time the Myrtle Beach Police Department sat down specifically with business owners. Officers hope these businesses along Ocean Boulevard can help take care of smaller, civil matters while police patrol the roads and sidewalks. There will be another one of those meetings on Friday, which the public is welcome to attend. And, starting in April, the Task Force will be reaching out to the unincorporated areas with specific information that affects them.
On Thursday the task force talked about what still needs to be figured out when it comes to the Bikefest safety plan. One point of focus was how will law enforcement deal with traffic near Myrtle Beach International Airport.
"We have hundreds of workers who work there including TSA, tenants, rental car companies our own county employees who work there," said county spokesperson Lisa Bourcier. "They get off after midnight so they will be concerned about how to maneuver during this time period."
In theory, the loop will not have a big impact on any businesses or people who live on the Grand Strand, because drivers will only be funneled through the loop overnight when most people are home anyway.