MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Parts of Ocean Boulevard will close down for a lane re-configuration project. The road work began Monday, after being delayed from rain the previous week.
Four blocks from 9th Avenue North until 14th Avenue North will go from four lanes down to three lanes. The project includes grinding off existing lane lines and painting new lanes. There will be two travel lanes, a center turn lane and bicycle lanes on the outside.
The work is expected to be done one day at a time white routing traffic around the closure. Monday, Ocean Blvd. between 9th Avenue North and Mr. Joe White Avenue was shut down while crews began to work.
"Anything that helps things do better down here, I'm for that, that's for sure," said James Hufnagel with Duffy's restaurant along 9th Ave. north. Hufnagel said he knew about the project ahead of time and is hoping for a smooth result. "I am glad they're doing it now instead of during the season like it seems like they normally do, wait until it starts and then they take care of it, but it should be good. Bike Week is coming up, that'll be the first test with all the traffic that's for sure," added Hufnagel.
Mark Kruea, Spokesperson for the city of Myrtle Beach said merchants along Ocean Blvd. where the work is being done approached the city first to do something different. "We're doing this test in paint, so we can reverse it if we need to," Kruea stated. The sidewalks aren't being torn up, and the lane painting is temporary until officials know the change is beneficial.
Hufnagel has noticed how backed up the road can get. He said, "It's been a mess for the delivery guys they don't like it at all, but what can we do? We're trying to get more people down here."
Kruea added, "So this is sort of a compromise, the merchants have agreed to liven up the area to make sure they do their part to welcome people to our living room, which is Ocean Boulevard, and then this will allow for a little better traffic flow." Kruea said the four blocks have been a stumbling block for drivers. "They go from three lanes to four lanes, then they have to go back to three lanes, so this will make Ocean Boulevard more uniform in the commercial district."
The bike lanes cut off at 9th Ave., so safety was a concern, Kruea explained. "There are some merchants that say, jeez, we need the cars driving in front of our businesses and then there are those that say we need to be able to protect pedestrians and provide for bicycle traffic."
The City of Myrtle Beach said on Tuesday morning, Ocean Blvd. between Mr. Joe White Avenue to 12th Avenue North will be closed. Wednesday is scheduled to close Ocean Blvd., from 12th Avenue North to 14th Avenue North, so be advised of alternate routes. Weather permitting, all four blocks should be complete before Thursday.