HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – On Wednesday, officials with the South Carolina Department of Transportation held a briefing on the Glenns Bay widening and interchange project to highlight changes that will be both a noticeable and pivotal point of the project.
"When you're actually taking the southbound traffic off of Highway 17 bypass and rerouting it onto the temporary off ramps, it'll be a little bit different," said Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokesperson. "But once people get used to that, it becomes day-to-day nature for them."
Although it may seem like an extra step, SCDOT said the shift is not only necessary to complete the bridge, but they have also conducted many studies on the area's traffic, focusing on how many people are traveling through the intersection and in which directions.
"It will operate in the same manner that it does today. The speed limit will be 45 miles per hour, there will be two traffic signals which will be coordinated together," said Leah Quattlebaum, SCDOT's regional production engineer. "You'll still have your two southbound lanes of traffic and two northbound lanes operating as they do."
Gary Loftus, who represents District 4 of Horry County, said this is a project people wanted to see.
"This area pretty overwhelmingly voted for Ride II, so they realized what they were getting with both the backgate or Socastee and the bypass and Glenns Bay," he said.
Though this change was pushed back until summer traffic let up and the completion date is pushed back from the end of 2017 to the summer of 2018 due to weather and utility relocation, Loftus believes history will repeat itself and it will be well worth it.
"In that it was heavy traffic, long waits at the traffic light and it took forever to get that interchange built, but now nobody notices it because they just breeze right through it," he said.
Once the southbound lanes are shifted over to the temporary ramp taking traffic around the construction site, the northbound lanes will join them by the end of October.
For motorists who drive through the area, the shift will start at 6 p.m., Sunday. Drivers can expect to drive on the new off ramps by Monday morning's commute.
Though there will be an extra light on Holmestown Road, SCDOT said it will be synced with the existing one to ensure it does not add any wait time.