HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County is beginning work on the International Drive repaving project, in spite of a conservation group's plans to appeal a court's decision to allow the project to move forward.
"After lengthy discussions with county staff and legal counsel, Horry County began construction on International Drive," states a news release from the Horry County government.
Constructions crews began clearing trees and vegetation along the right-of-way corridor on the road to prepare it for construction vehicles, the release states. This work will take about 40 days. In October, the county will publicize a request for proposal for construction and paving operations, and once the contract is awarded, the operation is expected to take about eight to 12 months. A final date will not be known until a contract is awarded.
"There are always risks, but this is certainly an acceptable risk we are willing take," stated Horry County Chairman Mark Lazarus. "Now that the judge ruled in favor of SC DHEC Sec 401 (water quality) permit, this allowed the US Army Corps to issue their Sec 404 (wetland fill) permit to us on July 22, 2016. We now have all the permits in our possession that allows us to begin construction on this road. There is the potential that a federal court action could be filed to stop us from paving the road, but again we are willing to take that risk. We have the money in the bank and all the required permits for this project, and we are going to get this road built."
Earlier in August, Nancy Cave, a spokesperson for the Coastal Conservation League, said they plan to appeal the decision to the South Carolina Court of Appeals.
Last month, protesters marched outside the officer of the Coastal Conservation League office in Georgetown, demanding that the group allow the project to move forward.
"We can't thank our citizens enough for their continued support of this project and standing by us to fight the good fight," commented Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught. "We have an obligation to our citizens to fulfill the RIDE 2 referendum that was voted on in 2006, and we are prepared to continue our efforts until cars are driving on International Drive. That will be one glorious day!"
According to the Horry County release: "International Drive was the last project to break ground under the RIDE 2 1% sales tax initiative for roads that was passed by a referendum vote in 2006." The project will pave and widen nearly six miles of the road from Carolina Forest to S.C. 90.