Ride II campaign opens door for future projects - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Ride II campaign opens door for future projects

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Construction projects in Horry County are still underway from Ride II and the Riding on a Penny Sales Tax. And there is still plenty of discussion before any work can be done for the next list, Ride III.

County officials try to keep road construction to a minimum during the busy summer tourist season. But while Horry County plans ahead to future projects, you're still dodging some orange barrels from Ride II.

Ride II is basically a list of road construction projects that were given priority over the last seven years. You voted to pass Ride II back in 2006 as a special referendum. The county then started collecting the Riding on a Penny Sales Tax in May of 2007. That tax just came off the books in April of 2014.

We still have a few projects left from that massive undertaking. The Glenns Bay widening and interchange project is currently underway, as well as the Highway 707 widening project and the extension of Highway 31. County leaders say all of these three projects should be completed around the same time in 2017.

But it doesn't stop there. “The most awaited project is the paving of International Drive,” says Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier. “That project will only take about six to eight months to complete once we get environmental permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.”

On a road with three schools and several subdivisions, traffic can stack up on International Drive. The original completion date for this project was sometime within 2013. But that clearly didn't happen, and now everyone is waiting on these environmental permits. County leaders expect that start time to be sometime this year.

Bourcier says that because county council members believe the Ride III projects were so successful, council was very interested in another Riding on a Penny Sales Tax to continue another round of improvements. So council appointed a committee of 18 people throughout the county. This committee met for several months and looked over around 130 different projects and whittled it down to a more manageable group of projects. These were presented to council last Tuesday.

Read more: Click here to view a PDF of the proposed Ride III Projects in Horry County

So what happens next, is a group called the sales tax commission will have to be appointed by county council. Council is allowed to appoint three member of that commission. The League of Cities will appoint the other three members to make a commission group of six members.

“That commission actually will decide ultimately what the projects are,” says Bourcier. “They can take the recommendations of this advisory committee or they can come up with other projects. And they will also decide the order of how the projects will be completed.”

If council doesn't like the list, it stops dead in its tracks. If council agrees with that list, it will put it to the voters as a referendum on the 2016 general election ballot. You would be voting to approve the projects and another Riding on a Penny Sales Tax for the next eight years, which is predicted to generate around $530 million for all these projects.

There will be plenty of public input throughout the entire review process. That is a requirement with something this big that is guaranteed to have such a huge impact on your day-to-day life. If there are projects besides the ones that were recommended by the committee that you feel are important and necessary, there is still time for you to give that input. These public input sessions will be announced a week in advance before each county meeting.

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