MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Memorial Day Weekend preparations are well underway in the City of Myrtle Beach. You may have seen some barricades out on the roads already; they're linked to a local controversy. All this is happening while the City is still waiting for a ruling regarding the 23-mile traffic loop.
Of course police want everyone to have fun, but following the law and safety is stressed during a time with larger crowds. That's why the Myrtle Beach Police Department's hosting Business and Community Watch meetings at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot on May 15 and May 16 to prepare local businesses and community members for what's expected to be another busy Memorial Day weekend. They will cover topics like safety and traffic patterns
Captain Joey Crosby with the Myrtle Beach Police Department said this is truly an "all hands-on deck" event. He said all departments of the city will pitch in to help keep officers on the roads and increase visibility.
Crosby said this year, 427 officers from other agencies will be in town to help during the Memorial Day BikeFest weekend—and that's actually less than last year's number. Officers will be patrolling in a four or five-block area along Ocean Boulevard.
Although a decision has yet to be made in the NAACP's lawsuit against the 23-mile traffic loop, the loop will return this year for Memorial Day BikeFest Weekend. Police say the 23-mile traffic loop will be in effect to limit traffic on Ocean Boulevard. It'll be south-bound only, and authorities say it creates a safer environment for everyone.
If the judge happens to rule in favor of the NAACP and against the traffic loop, Crosby said they'll be prepared.
"We certainly have plans in place for all aspects of our operational plan, whatever that may be. So, we're certainly prepared for this year. As we said through our comment on Facebook, we're very grateful for the opportunity to present our testimony to the judge in previous weeks and we're continuing to move forward with our operational plans as is, as we approach this particular weekend," said Crosby.
This year, the operational plans will remain the same year's past, with some slight changes. The department plans to have additional message boards along Kings Highway to let drivers know when to get on and off Ocean Boulevard. All in effort, they say, to educate those driving around and people who work downtown.
Larry Bond is on the board of directors for the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and also owns several businesses downtown (Art Burger, The Chemist, Noizy Oyster, and Gordo's Tacos and Tequila). He said last year, they didn't have any issues at all and they plan to operate business this year just as a normal busy summer day, with extra staff.
"The police department and the city and the county have all worked together, it's a collaborative effort to keep our city safe and I think they've done a fantastic job. You always see a police presence wherever you are at in the downtown area and all of the business owners feel safe and the employees. And that's what's important, we want the visitors to come down, enjoy the beach, have a good time, and let our police force and our city worry about keeping our people safe… and they do a great job at that, so we leave it in their hands," said Bond.
For those interested in more information on the Memorial Day Bikefest weekend, follow this link.