A road denied, but under review again as public safety concerns discussed

The Grande Dunes bridge spans the Intracoastal Waterway. It is the only official way vehicles can access the Members Club golf course and communities west of the waterway. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

After arguing back and forth about their only bridge, Grand Dunes Golf Village residents may be getting another way to go back and forth.

Myrtle Beach City Council has agreed to work with Horry County and the Grande Dunes Golf Village Property Owners Association to pave about 1.15 miles of a dirt road to allow village residents another alternative in and out of their community other than the ornate bridge that spans the Intracoastal Waterway off U.S. 17 Bypass on the northern end of the city.

The agreement calls for Horry County to bid out the project and pay for the section the road within the county (about 0.43 miles). The city is to pay the county for paving the portion within the city limits (about 0.72 miles) and the property owners association is to pay the county for paving a small amount leading in the golf village.

Deputy City Manager Fox Simons said he does not know how much the paving will cost, but he expects the work to be complete by the fall.

As the council voted to approve the paving, a group tucked on the back few rows of the city council chambers erupted in applause when councilman Gregg Smith prepared to vote.

“This is probably something that should have been done 20 years ago,” he said to the cheering group.

Since the village was planned and established more than 20 years ago, the only paved way into and out of the gated community was via the private bridge owned by Grande Dunes homeowners. The northern dirt access, Watertower Road, has been closed to the community. The southern dirt access, Henry Road, is more than a mile of potholes and owned largely by Horry County.

“I don’t know any other option unless you want to build another bridge,” Simons said. “Nobody wants to build another bridge. This is it.”

The most recent back and forth began this summer as the golf course owner LStar Ventures asked to open a road between the course and a new housing development on an old golf course, Waterway Hills, north of the city limits. An LStar Ventures spokesperson had cited low revenue at the Grande Dunes course, adding an additional road into and out of the village benefits the residents.

Grande Dunes Golf Village residents were split on allowing the access from Waterway Hills with some complaining of too much traffic on their streets and more wear on the aging bridge that has undergone repairs recently but is still shut down if there are high winds or icy conditions.

Through the arguing about allowing traffic from one golf course community into another golf course community, city leadership took note of the public safety issues raised.

City Manager John Pedersen said there are concerns fire engines and other emergency vehicles would not be able to pass on the bridge under certain conditions. He added sending expensive emergency vehicles on a trek through a pocked dirt road would damage the vehicles.

Since Grande Dunes is in a planned unit development, Simons said the council’s approval is needed on any major changes in access to the area. The plans to pave the road call for the property owners to install an electronic gate limiting access on the new entrance.

In July, the city council had denied LStar Ventures’ request to allow a road from Waterway Hills into the village.

Simons said another option was opening the northern dirt road and connecting it to Watertower Road allowing for access at S.C. 22. The state Department of Transportation rejected that proposal, Simons said.

The final option drew applause as the three-way agreement was announced on Tuesday.

Simons said the city and property owners are each given 30 days after the invoice is received to pay the county for the paving work.

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.


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