Petitioner pushes for International Drive paving - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Petitioner pushes for International Drive paving

CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - The paving of International Drive has hit a roadblock and it has local community members forming a petition, with the goal, to move the road construction project along.

Community members are awaiting a paved, and widened road to expand to Highway 90, and alleviate traffic on US-501.

The petition organizer said she’s hoping this will be the step to get roadwork going. She wants to be clear, this is not to petition Horry County, she’s aware county leaders are doing all they can, it’s to push the groups holding back the permits, which petitioners say are keeping the construction from starting.

Mike Wooten was chairman of Ride II, and is with DDC engineers, the company assigned to International Drive. He said there’s not a hold-up, it’s just taking a long time to go through the permitting process.

“I tell people all the time the engineering, design and building it is the short part,” said Wooten. “Getting it permitted is the long part.”

Because of federal and state laws, he said there are certain hurdles to get through. One is to get all state agencies, like DNR and DHEC, to approve the plan. Wooten said this has been accomplished. The main hurdle is the permitting process with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

“The corps doing their job, they’re not holding things up,” said Wooten. “They’re doing what they have to do to make absolutely sure, that an intervening group like the Coastal Conservation League or the Southern Environmental Law center doesn’t have any grounds to come back and stop the project.”

Because, he said, 24 acres of wetlands are being filled with this road, and every step needs to be closely taken.

“The corp and the state agencies, always extra cautious to ensure that they have done what they need to do to defend the decisions they need to make to these intervening groups,” Wooten said.

A representative with the Army Corps of Engineers told WMBF News they're close to a decision.

Of all the projects on the Ride II Penny Sales Tax list, International Drive is the only one that has yet to see any construction, but, it’s not the only one to have issues with permits.

County leaders said project permits for Highway 31 and Highway 707, were also held up for about two years for a similar reason. Because these projects were higher on the priority list for Ride II, they had to be started before International Drive, which is another reason for the delay.

Since International Drive is one of the last on the list, it was going to be one of the last started. Either way, other projects were held up by permits, and they got done; therefore, county leaders gave assurance that this one will too.

“I’m confident that we’ll have a permit for International Drive by the middle of the month,” Wooten said.

Once the permits are in, he said,  it will be about a year and a half before everyone is driving on the road.

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