NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Grand Strand Area Transportation Study is hosting four public information meetings about the draft of the 2045 metropolitan transportation plan.

Residents have the ability to make their voices heard about the future of transportation in the region.

Officials said one of the main concerns is the roads’ ability to withstand the rapid growth the Grand Strand has seen in recent years.

They said that historically, the roads were never intended for the amount of traffic that is seen now.

The first of the four public information meetings was held at the North Myrtle Beach City Hall.

Those who attended could walk around and look at posters set up with information from the past five years on regional growth, transportation challenges, ranking for ongoing projects and crash deaths.

Within the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study boundary, there have been 369 deadly crashes in South Carolina between 2015 and 2021.

Mark Hoeweler, the Metropolitan Planning Organization director, said the main goal for their 2045 plan is to make roads safer for all forms of transportation.

“You know, a fender-bender is one thing, but if you’re walking or biking, those things are hard to recover from and survive,” Hoeweler said. “So, we have to err in favor of those types of situations. And that’s what we’re looking at. That’s kind of why we’ve elevated safety criteria.”

Those who attended could ask officials questions about their plan or submit a written comment or concern.

North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley said the road systems need to be prepared for the growth in the area and not behind like they are currently.

“I’m very pleased with the projects that I see that GSAT has listed for the north end the county,” she said. “And let me tell you, people are going to continue to move here, as we have seen in the past 10 years. So, it’s most important that we be ready and prepare for them.”

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Savannah Denton joined News 13 in July 2023 as a reporter and producer. Savannah is from Atlanta, Georgia, and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. Follow Savannah on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here