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35-mile ‘Rail Trail’ in the works to connect Myrtle Beach to Aynor

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 8:22 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Thirty-five miles connecting walkers and cyclists from Myrtle Beach all the way to Aynor...

That’s the vision several county and city departments have for making sure you don’t need a car to get around.

Planning departments from throughout Horry County came to Coastal Carolina University Wednesday for a Trail Summit to discuss the future of pathways and trails in the county.

“I really don’t like seeing human infrastructure for 100% of my day,” said Joseph Minnich, a cyclist who came to the summit. “I like to see trees and wildlife when I can.”

Minnich sees all those trees and wildlife when he puts in more than 60 miles on his bike every week.

Those rides through nature tend to be a lot more enjoyable than his rides to work at CCU.

“If I want to get from my house to Coastal Carolina to downtown Conway, it’s almost impossible to do so in a safe way,” said Minnich.

Minnich says he has an idea for a trail connecting all of Horry County so folks can get around safely without having to be on highways next to cars.

Turns out, planning departments from cities throughout the county are on the same page.

“If we can connect them to the community college and CCU, connect them to downtown areas and communities further out, we have an opportunity to make a ton of people happy,” said Conway Planning Director Allison Hardin.

Planning teams from throughout the county came together for a trail summit to share what they have in the works to connect the county’s trails.

While each one is working on its own projects, like an East Coast Greenway realignment in North Myrtle Beach to a trail connection around Conway High School, they all had one goal in common: A 35-mile rail trail, running along the old railroad tracks from the Myrtle Beach Train Depot out to Aynor.

The problem is money.

“That $2 million per mile is pretty accurate,” said Conway Administrator Adam Emrick when referring to the cost to add a trail. “It’s really hard and frustrating for elected officials to understand that a trail is more than just a path, it’s got to be something that people can actually utilize.”

It may happen in phases and it could take 20 years, but if the rail trail becomes a reality, you can count on Minnich to be one of the first ones to ride it.

“The rails are already there,” said Minnich. “We have these great pathways. All we have to do is make them bikeable.”

Part of the discussion also focused on how these trail projects are about more than just recreation. It would also provide a way for people to get to work or the grocery store without being expected to have a car.

A county planner pointed out that Horry County doesn’t have a dedicated pot of money for trails. It’ll take people speaking up and saying this is something they want to start budgeting for this plan to actually happen.

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