HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Whether you're coming from Conway, or the beach, brace yourself for traffic. Friday and Saturday are the move-in days for Coastal Carolina University, and next week, classes begin for Horry County Schools.
Highway 501 is really the main road to get you to the CCU campus, no matter where you're coming from. With more than 3,700 students moving in, on top of hundreds faculty and volunteers to help out, you can expect to see the impact on our roads.
Students will start pouring onto campus today as early as 8 a.m. Friday and continue for most of the day.
WMBF News took a look at traffic patterns on CCU move-in day last year on Highway 501, to give you a better idea of exactly what to expect. SCDOT reported traffic on 501 through Carolina Forest, in the beach bound lanes, down to less than 20 mph for most of the afternoon into the evening. The same trend followed on Saturday, so if you're headed this way, leave yourself extra time.
The good news is, one incoming freshman told WMBF News, dorms were given different move-in times, so hopefully everyone doesn't crowd the roads at once.
"I get to my house and Coastal in 20 minutes on 544 but on 501 it would probably take around 40 minutes just because of lights and traffic," said CCU student Mackenzie Jones.
To avoid slow downs use roads like Highways 544, 31 and 22, they're usually less crowded and may cut time off your drive.
Keep in mind, we're not just talking about back-to-school traffic. Friday is typically a busy travel day for tourists, expect visitors to add to the congestion.
Ready or not, school starts next week for Horry County and everyone is going to see the impact on our roads, so the bottom line, be prepared to see more students walking around and for more traffic.
Transportation director with Horry County Schools, Jim Wright told WMBF News how you can prepare. He said slow down spots are going to be Highways 501, 544 and 701, especially for the first few weeks of school when we still have tourists in town.
The biggest challenge for drivers is going to be Highway 707 near the St. James schools, because of the widening project going on there.
Plus, you'll be sharing the roads with more than 340 buses, countywide. The first routes start as early as 4:40 a.m, but its around six when you'll see the most buses on the road. Those routes pick back up at 1:30 p.m. and will be on the road as many of you drive home from work.
It's going to take schools and drivers some time to get used to the routes, so if you're waiting for your kids to get home, expect a delay at first but this should smooth out after a week or two.
Horry County Schools have new interactive bus route maps online, so you can know not just where the stops are, but when the bus is scheduled to arrive. It's not a bad idea even if you don't have kids in school, to see if there are stops in your area.