New lanes of Carolina Forest Boulevard to open July 31; work to continue on multi-use path

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – One of Horry County’s most-visible road projects is winding down.

Officials said Wednesday afternoon that all four lanes of the newly widened Carolina Forest Boulevard will be open to traffic starting on July 31.

“The contractor, as of this morning during our progress meeting, intends to have the mainline section of Carolina Forest Boulevard open on the 31st,” Jason Thompson, manager of Horry County’s RIDE program, said Wednesday afternoon.

However, work on the project — which was started more than two years ago at an estimated cost of $54.7 million — won’t be fully completed for several months because a multi-use path still needs to be completed, Thomas said. That means several right-turn lanes into subdivisions won’t be paved into the developments until after the path is completed, he said.

“The contractor will continue to work on the south side path for the next couple of months, Thompson said. “If you have been through the area lately, (the contractor’s) intentions and goals were to start at River Oaks and work toward the west back on the (Highway) 501 side. So, the River Oaks end through the main section of the project, a lot of it has already had base placed on the south side path. That section for the south side path, the entire length, will remain uncompleted for the next couple of months.”

In the meantime, traffic on the main four lanes of the boulevard will be flowing, complete with several new traffic signals that Thompson said will be fully operational. They will be coordinated with each other and adjusted based on traffic flow, so Thompson asked motorists to be patient.

 “We know we don’t have it exactly perfect to start with,” he said. “But we will adjust the timing on the signals as necessary so that everything flows as freely and smoothly and easily as possible.”

The widening project is one of 20 included in Horry County’s Ride Improvement and Development Effort, known as RIDE III. The projects are funded by a one-cent capital projects sales tax that went into effect in May 2017 after it was approved by the county’s voters in November 2016.

The tax, which expires on April 30, 2025, added an additional one-cent sales tax in Horry County on all retail sales, accommodations and prepared foods and beverages. It’s expected to generate $592 million.

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