AYNOR, SC (WMBF) - Changes could be coming to Highway 501 to make the commute for drivers cruising through Aynor a little smoother. The South Carolina Department of Transportation says that following the completion of the Aynor overpass project they will reevaluate speed limits and traffic light timing within town limits
"I see all that happening over there," long time resident John Cook said of the clearing work that began for the overpass Monday. "It's breaking ground, it's starting to move, it's rumbling."
Right now workers are in the first stage of the four stage, $9.9 million project as they work to clear the land.
"I didn't think anything like this would ever come to the big city of Aynor," Cook added with a grin.
Cook's family has seen it all in Aynor over the years. He says their history dates back to the early 1800s at "Cook Hill", their family plot near the new overpass.
"It'd probably be hard for them to believe," he said. "They we're on mule and wagons when they first started that cemetery."
The overpass may not be the only roadway change coming to the small town, SCDOT says they will also be taking another look at speed limits and traffic light timing for Highway 501 drivers.
"Once the project is built we'll reevaluate the project to see what changes," explained Michael Bethea, SCDOT District Traffic Engineer.
Bethea says he does not expect the traffic to look much different, however.
"You're still going to have the same number of driveways, the same number of businesses so the speed limit will probably stay 45 [mph]," he said.
That news is exactly what Cook wanted to hear.
"We don't need a bunch of speeders," he said. "We've got speed enough like it is."
Cook is not a big fan of extending the green lights for Highway 501 drivers either.
"I think that is ridiculous," he stated.
"We have a lot of green time on [Highway] 501 now," Bethea explained. "We may be able to increase it some, but it's considered a real long cycle now as it is."
If the overpass is the only major traffic change coming to Aynor, that will be plenty for Cook.
The Aynor Overpass was identified as a priority project in Horry County's RIDE II sales tax program. The new overpass will serve as the only uninterrupted thoroughfare that connects the two halves of Aynor that are separated by U.S. 501. In the past three years there have been 37 accidents alone along U.S. 501 in the 1.5 mile segment between Bluewater Road and Jordanville Road.
The proposed project will consist of approximately 3.5 total miles of roadway improvements, with nearly 1.8 miles on new alignment. The main line of the proposed project will include a landscaped median that will separate traffic, and a 10 foot multi-use path that will also span U.S. 501 to be used by the citizens of Aynor. The Aynor Overpass project also includes improvements at 6 major intersections throughout the town and access improvements to U.S. 501 to increase safety, enhance traffic flow and ease of commute between the two halves of Aynor.
Goodson Construction Co., Inc., (of Aynor, SC) is the general contractor for the project. They received the notice to proceed on December 20, 2010, and the contract completion date is November 2012. The Construction Budget for the Aynor Overpass $9.9 million.
The project is broken into four stages and they are currently in Stage one, which involves Clearing & Grubbing, erosion control and placing of silt fencing followed by ground modification activities. These must be completed before bridge work can begin. Once ground modifications is complete, they will move to the bridge to perform the necessary build-up to allow the bridge construction to commence.