International Drive lawsuit dismissed, Horry County hopes to change state law

International Drive lawsuit dismissed, Horry County hopes to change state law

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The lawsuit regarding International drive is dismissed. Now, Horry County is looking to change the way things are done so that challenges to road projects can happen easily.

Now the lengthy legal battle over International Drive is prompting county leaders to testify in front of a senate subcommittee.

Horry County and the Coastal Conservation group agreed to dismiss the ongoing federal lawsuit. That means when the county finishes the project, the road will be open to full traffic.

Horry County voters approved to have nearly six miles of International Drive widened and paved in a 2006 sales tax referendum.

Construction was supposed to begin in 2013, but faced setbacks due to a legal feud between Horry County Leaders and conservation and wildlife activists.

Conservationists wanted to make sure wetlands would be protected, but the County wanted a road connecting Carolina Forest and Highway 90.

Back in December, the conservationists succeeded in stopping construction when the state appeals court issued a stay. But shortly after, the appeals court reversed that order and allowed construction to continue.

Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught says this situation has cost the county almost $250,000 in litigation and more in construction fees.

So because of situations like this, on Thursday, the County plans to testify in front of a senate subcommittee to remove future automatic stays when it comes to constructions projects.

"They can still request for it to be halted but there's a time limit put on it now when the decision has to be made for it to go or stay, and before there was not and litigation could just go on and on and on, and now they have to prove a case before a judge in a specific period of time so that's going to be a good thing, and hopefully they will have to be a bond put up to, because if someone is going to stop a $15 million project like this one out here, they should have a skin in the game," Vaught said.

The league also wanted to make sure bears will have a safe way to cross the road, but Horry County continued to litigate and fight what it felt was the right thing to do for the people who live in the community.

According to the county, the road will be convenient for people all along Hwy. 90 to get to doctors' offices, for first responders to get to fires, and for EMT to take people to a hospital.

"That was one of the main concerns was there was no way to get to the Beach between Highway 22 and 501, it was no way to get across the waterway and go that way, it stopped, so we will be redesigning for the intersection with Hwy. 90 probably putting a stop light in there so it can be a safe intersections and also a bike and walking path that will go all that way from HWY 90 to Grissom," Vaught said.

County officials said the contract completion date for the portion of International Drive is March 2018.

WMBF News reached out the see why the Coastal Conservation League agreed to stop their fight.

The group did not want to comment on the situation but did say it agreed to lift the lawsuit.

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