SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A major construction project along U.S. 17 Business in Surfside Beach broke ground in February. Now, businesses in the area say they’re ready for work to be complete after noticing a drop in sales.
The full construction project is along a three-mile stretch of road along U.S. 17 Business from S.C. 544 to Melody Lane. South Carolina Department of Transportation officials say it’s still on track to be completed by mid-2020, weather permitting.
Derrick Tindall, SCDOT resident construction engineer, says the goal is to make the roads safer. Once this nearly $14 million project is complete, concrete islands will be installed in the median area along frontage roads, and drivers will no longer be able to make left turns.
Tindall says so far, crews have been working on storm drain installation and grading along median areas. Three new traffic signals are also included in the plans at Platt Boulevard, 10th Avenue South and 16th Avenue North. Tindall added foundation work on those signals should start the first of the year.
Businesses in the area say they’re taking a hit on sales, blaming it on what they say is an overwhelming amount of traffic cones in the area confusing drivers, specifically tourists.
Barry Lee, the owner of Joey Doggs, says he’s thankful business is only down about 3 to 4% due to construction. He believes it’s because they’re close to the turn lanes on U.S. 17 Business and a strong customer base, but others are reporting even bigger loss.
“Some of the other business owners in the area that I’m hearing are down 15, 20, 25%. It’s making it difficult to get through the businesses. They’ve closed off these entrances so our locals, they know where we’re at, they know how to get here, but a lot of the tourists and everything during the summer, there were so many cones out it scared a lot of people," said Lee.
SCDOT officials say drivers shouldn’t expect any road closures throughout the remainder of this project since crews are working mainly during the evenings, from around 7 p.m. through 6 a.m.
Original plans also included bringing overhead power lines crossing the road underground, but due to budgeting issues it’s been eliminated from the project.