CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A plan that could help improve traffic congestion in Carolina Forest took a step forward Thursday.
Revolutionary War Way off Carolina Forest Boulevard ends just past Ten Oaks Middle School. Horry County has planned for the road to continue with entrance and exit ramps for South Carolina Highway 31, before connecting with Augusta Plantation Drive near River Oaks Elementary School.
The county also says the Carolina Bays Parkway interchange was in the original Carolina Forest development agreement master plan.
“It is in our long-range transportation plan with GSATS (Grand Strand Area Transportation Study),” said county planning director David Schwerd. “It is in the proposed Imagine 2040 (plan) and it’s been around since Carolina Forest itself.”
Horry County needs roughly 20 acres off Revolutionary War Way to have all the land for the interchange. Those 20 acres are owned by Forestar Real Estate Group, which is developing The Parks @ Carolina Forest.
That’s a proposal for roughly 1,100 homes on about 470 acres next to the interchange site. Forestar has proposed 60 of those lots would be on the interchange’s 20 acres.
The county planning commission voted Thursday to recommend county council not approve an exemption for Forestar’s land. An exemption to the county’s maps could allow Forestar to build there after requesting a rezoning.
Schwerd says the interchange will reduce traffic on the soon-to-be widened Carolina Forest Boulevard, River Oaks Drive and other roads.
“The benefit on (U.S. Highway) 501 would actually be a benefit to everybody in the county, not just those residents in Carolina Forest,” he said.
Schwerd says Forestar is open to selling the land to the county and it’s council’s choice to buy it.
“They have 75 days from the day they receive that recommendation to make that decision,” said Schwerd.
At Tuesday’s Horry County Council meeting, council member Bill Howard, who represents parts of Carolina Forest, said leftover road construction funds could be used to buy the land.
“The interchange on 31-Revolutionary War Way property that we have to purchase, so we can protect that for the future, needs to be coming out of that RIDE II money,” Howard said.
The county says the interchange just missed the cut for the RIDE III program and during that process, the project was estimated to cost about $47 million.