HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation is asking for federal money to potentially raise Highway 501 near the Waccamaw River.
It’s one possibility in a list of solutions to address the threat of flooding on a major artery in and out of Myrtle Beach.
In the days following Hurricane Florence, chaos and traffic nightmares unfolded on Highway 501 as flood barriers were installed, and parts of the major roadway were shut down.
“You couldn’t move around Conway within a three or four mile radius. You couldn’t get through,” said Horry County councilman Johnny Vaught.
State transportation officials are now looking at a solution to prevent the threat of flooding on Highway 501 during future storms. If approved, the proposed project would raise a section of the road to eliminate the dangers of a rising Waccamaw River.
“I just don’t think this will solve any problems. Yes, if we get another high flood, it will keep us from losing the road, but long-term we’re still going to need another bridge over the Waccamaw,” said Vaught.
Vaught said the idea was brought up by SCDOT officials during Florence last year, but he doesn’t believe it’s the answer, and instead, worries of the added traffic issues a construction project of this size could bring.
“You’re talking about probably a year-long project, and we can’t stand shutting down a major artery in Conway for a year,” said Vaught.
Greg Faulk owns an auto sales shop just off Highway 501 near the Waccamaw River, and he said something needs to be done.
“People are simply tired of it. They’re tired of it. They’re tired of flooding. They’re fed up with it and something’s gotta be done with it,” said Faulk.
Faulk isn’t opposed to the idea of elevating Highway 501, but said he’d rather see state and local officials address flooding by looking at the Waccamaw River itself.
“We need to get the river cleaned out, we need to get the river dredged out. I think 501 is an option, it would be great. I would be open to listen to anything but I just think the river is the problem we’re having,” said Faulk.
Right now there’s currently another solution being looked at by county officials which would create a bypass near Lake Busbee, in order to eliminate flooding concerns, while also opening up another route to alleviate traffic on Highway 501.