MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - City leaders in Myrtle Beach are considering changes to a portion of Kings Highway in order to make it safer and more accessible.
Kings Highway is a major artery running through the City of Myrtle Beach with up to six lanes of traffic flowing in both directions.
“Since we’re a very linear city, we end up with basically a freeway through town," said Planning Director for the City of Myrtle Beach Carol Coleman.
Some city leaders feel Kings Highway is, simply put, too much. The city’s planning commission is exploring changes that would reduce speed limits on the highway and take it from six lanes down to four in some areas. Something they believe will make it safer and more walkable.
“The sidewalks are right up against the curb so when you’ve got people that are in a 45 miles per hour speed limit but they’re doing 65 and if you’re walking on the sidewalk right up against the curb it’s not a very comfortable place to be," said Coleman.
These changes were recommended in eight different studies and plans dating back to 1998 when the city adopted the Pavilion Area Master Plan. While they were never given the green light, Coleman said the city is now revisiting the idea which, she said, could also help attract more businesses to the area.
“Part of the problem we have with having empty storefronts, people are flying through and not stopping. So if we can make it more comfortable, more like it should be in terms of it being the City of Myrtle Beach then maybe people will be more apt to shop, to come in and establish business," said Coleman.
But others worry what it’ll do to business. Owner of Good Day Cafe in downtown Myrtle Beach, Kevin Andrews, fears reducing lanes on Kings Highway will cause congestion on a road he feels is already problematic.
“With millions of tourists coming every year, narrowing the potential pathways into the city, the destinations they’re going, I don’t think it’s going to be safer I think it’s going to become a deterrent and possibly more hazardous," said Andrews.
Coleman said should the city end up moving forward with a lane reduction in the future, it will look into coordination of traffic lights to help with congestion.
But in order for any of these changes to happen, the planning commission will need approval from city council, SCDOT, and the federal government.