When crews break ground on the widening of Carolina Forest Boulevard in a few months, the project will include one multi-purpose path down the western side of the four-lane road.
But Horry County officials are searching for a way to pay for a second path, one that would run down the eastern side of the busy boulevard.
“I kind of look at it as a safety issue for the community,” said Horry County Councilman Dennis DiSabato, who lives in Carolina Forest. “To me, the multi-use path is probably mostly going to be used by people who are traveling to the rec center, I would think, and the library. For it to be on the opposite side of that road just doesn’t make sense to me.”
The $54.7 million widening ranks No. 3 in RIDE III, the county’s nearly $600 million road-building program funded by a 1 percent sales tax. The project calls for expanding the two-lane portion of the boulevard to four lanes from Gateway Drive to River Oaks Drive and building a multi-purpose path beside the road. Most of that 10-foot-wide path would be separated from the boulevard by a ditch, which officials hope will provide a safety buffer.
DiSabato said he had assumed there would be paths on both sides of the boulevard until he saw the final design plans. Then he began talking with county staff about adding a second path, which would be on the same side of the road as the most popular public facilities (the recreation center and library).
One challenge for that proposal is the budget for the project doesn’t include the $5 million officials estimate would be needed to construct a second path down the boulevard.
However, DiSabato said the county expects to have about $30 million available after all the expenses of the previous roads program, RIDE II, are covered and he hopes the county can use some of that money for the second path.
“The multi-use path could be a candidate for that [funding],” he said.
Yet a concern for some residents is that they don’t want the addition of the path to further delay a long overdue project.
“Of course we want it,” said Carole van Sickler, president of the Carolina Forest Civic Association. “But if it means delaying those shovels, stop it. Put those shovels in the ground.”
DiSabato agreed. He said county staff aim to proceed with the project as planned, meaning one path. If the funding can be secured for the second path, he said it could be added after the other construction has begun without delaying the main project.
“I don’t want to hold the construction up,” DiSabato said. “I also want to get the [second] multi-use path.”
Bidding for the boulevard work begins in March, said county spokeswoman Kelly Moore. Construction is expected to commence in late spring.
“You probably won’t see dirt moving in May,” she said. “It will likely be in early June.”
The boulevard widening is projected to be finished by the spring of 2021.