Hwy. 707 widening project delayed by Hurricane Matthew, Hwy. 31 project on time

Hwy. 707 widening project delayed by Hurricane Matthew, Hwy. 31 project on time

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Some of you have been reaching out to our newsroom to ask why the 707 widening project has been going on for so long.

The completion date has been delayed once again, so you're going to have to put up with the orange barrels for a bit longer.

This time, it's because of Hurricane Matthew.

But there's some good news: work is not at a standstill crews are making progress.

Because of growth in schools, homes and commercial developments the two lanes you're seeing will eventually turn to five.  This is one of the last projects for Ride II, and as of now, almost 50 percent complete.

The 9.2 miles from Enterprise Road to the Georgetown county line are being widened to match up with 17 in Georgetown County.

Work started on the 707 project back in 2013, and according to the county's original plan, work there was supposed to completed sometime this year.

But because of Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 and Matthew in 2016, that timeline will not be met.

Utility relocation has also slowed the project. Santee Cooper, Horry Electric, water, sewer and fiber lines all have to be relocated and pushed back to the new right-of-way. That's taking longer than expected.

Sidewalks are also being added.

A lot has been done but clearly there's a lot left to do.

"We still have that Collins Creek bridge that we need to work on before we can actually start paving the section near Enterprise Road as we move forward, so we do have some embankment completions that we need to do - some of those bridges we do have about seven wetland bridges," Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said. "That's also included on the 31 projects that's near to be completed, so people are starting to see it. I think that's why it's getting exciting and people are anxious to have to open."

The county projects the extension to be completed early spring of 2018.

We're also learning more about what's going on with the extension of highway 31.

Because of rain and bridgework over the Intracostal Waterway, work was delayed, but now the 31 extension project is back in motion.

But there's one stipulation, even though the 31 extension project is on time, it can't be opened up until the 707 widening project is completed.

The 31 extension project is planned in several phases: 31 first stopped at Highway 501, and then the second phase connected Highway 31 from 501 to 544. Now crews are set to finish the southern end down to 707.

However, crews can't open up that leg of highway before the 707 project is finished because 707 is still a two-lane road and all the traffic coming off of 31 would cause congestion.

"It's already a gridlock - you don't want to dump more traffic into a two-lane road at this time, so we need to make sure timing is complete, but that project is on schedule," Bourcier said.

When Ride III starts later this year, work to extend Highway 31 to North Carolina will begin.

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