Some see surprising decrease in back gate traffic

Published: Jun. 13, 2011 at 10:27 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2011 at 11:31 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Drivers seem to already be taking traffic warnings seriously when it comes to construction at the old Myrtle Beach Air Force Base back gate intersection.

Although last Monday was the first day the construction contractor could start work on the overpass project, not much has changed yet. There is still some prep work going on, but it seems some drivers may be already avoiding the intersection.

A week after the official start of the overpass construction project, the only thing drivers will notice is a lower speed limit and construction zone signs, but Paul Taylor who lives nearby said he thinks it is affecting some drivers.

"I think people are looking for easier ways around all this," Taylor said.

He said surprisingly that has meant lighter traffic in the past week.

"They hate sitting in traffic with it 90 degrees and almost $3.50 a gallon for gas," he said. "Yeah, they're trying to get home as quick as possible.

"The traffic has dropped off tremendously out here southbound. You know, northbound everybody's going to the beach, but coming home everybody seems to be splitting off and splitting it up three ways - over there [on Hwy. 17 Business], here [on Hwy. 17 Bypass] or on [Hwy.] 31."

Julie Fergus at Shade and Shutter Expo is just down the road from the intersection, and she has noticed the same thing.

"[You] can't go that way. That's what they're thinking," Fergus said about drivers who heard the warnings about construction beginning.

From her perspective that is good and bad.

"I think people are finding other ways around," she said. "That's good for us that are traveling it right through here, but not so much for customers coming in."

They both realize as construction really gets underway traffic back-ups will be likely, but for now they are taking things a day at a time.

"I'm glad that everyone's paying attention though and taking precautions ahead of time to find another way in instead of being in a rush," Taylor said.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation is not counting traffic in the area of the back gate. So the observations of Taylor, Fergus and others cannot be validated.

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