CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County is looking to improve one of the main roads drivers use to enter the area and it may ask for state and federal help.
Carol Hardy works at Dewey’s Barbecue and Grill along U.S. Highway 701 just north of Loris.
She says the amount of traffic backup when U.S. 701 goes from four lanes to two hurts business.
“Sometimes, it seems like they’re afraid to get off of 701, like maybe they won’t be able to get back on, and so, they’re afraid to stop,” Hardy said.
As part of the RIDE III program, highway 701 will be widened from the South Carolina Highway 9 bypass to downtown Loris. There’s no project yet to widen the final three-and-a-half miles of U.S. 701, from the highway 9 bypass interchange to the North Carolina line.
Residents say this stretch can get very busy in the summer.
“It’s mostly tourists,” said Paul Prince, a county council member representing parts of Loris. “It’s probably 90% tourists that’s using that road back and forth to go to Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach.”
That’s why Horry County Council may ask the South Carolina and U.S. departments of transportation to help fund those last three-plus miles. That stretch, combined with the RIDE III project, would make highway 701 four lanes from Tabor City, North Carolina, to Loris.
Prince says the ongoing tourist tax lawsuit makes it tough to plan for road projects.
“If we ever get this one-and-a-half-cent hospitality money worked out, we might could use some of that and split it three ways,” Prince said.
Prince says a rough estimate of the cost of widening U.S. 701 from highway 9 to the state line could be $8-12 million. The county says a four-lane U.S. 701 would shorten response time for emergency crews.
Hardy says residents in the area would also benefit.
“Their travel would be much nicer,” she said. “No more stopping and going.”
Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution to request the money from the state and federal transportation departments.