Hwy 707 and 31 construction projects on hold

Published: Jul. 24, 2012 at 3:54 PM EDT
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The summer of 2012 marks two years since construction was scheduled to begin on Hwy 707.
The summer of 2012 marks two years since construction was scheduled to begin on Hwy 707.

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Two multi-million dollar road projects in Horry County have been put on hold. Namely, the widening of Highway 707 and the expansion of Highway 31.

The summer of 2012 marks two years since construction was scheduled to begin on Hwy 707, and work is currently at a stand still on Hwy 31.

Horry County officials say they are unsure when progress will start up again on either roadway, and as a result, many people who drive in the areas affected say they feel abandoned.

"Where is it? What happened? I mean I know we can't get guarantees on when things start; we've just been forgotten," complained driver Wayne Herndon.

Even though South Carolina Department of Transportation officials had to start over, Councilman Gary Loftus says money is available to get the project started as soon as it is approved.

The Army Corps of Engineers, however, say the projects need to be put on hold.

Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers explain permitting is always a long process and road projects like the ones on Hwy 31 and 707 are complex. Workers must go through 126 pages of the permit application.

In addition, they say the reason for the delay is because of the wetlands adjacent to the plans for the Hwy 31 extension project that are raising environmental concerns.

The public comment period for the project ended Friday, and engineers are still waiting for the last of the comments to trickle in so they can get started. Those comments include any opinions from the state and federal levels, and nonprofit organizations on how this project affects what's around it.

Officials must go through each and every comment and see how it fits in with SCDOT's highway plans for the land.

"So uh, no, we didn't think it would take this long. We were hoping to be done with this by the year 2015. Now it's going to be out 2016, 2017..we hope," predicts Horry County Councilman Gary Loftus.

Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers say they think it will take longer than usual for the permit process.

"It's very disappointing to hear that because it's not a safe situation," objected Herndon.

The Army Corps of Engineers says the time frame for the permit process will be at least four months, but realistically it may be much longer.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.