Highways 31 and 707 finally get go-ahead

Local officials toss dirt at a ceremony for the extension of S.C. 31 and the widening of S.C. 707.

Now that permits have been obtained, contracts will soon be let to complete the final phase of S.C. 31.

Also included in that phase will be the widening of S.C. 707 to five lanes.

Local and state officials gathered Wednesday at the southern end of S.C. 31 to announce the beginning of the two projects.

Congressman Tom Rice said one of his main goals when he first took office in January was to get the permits approved for this project.

“I met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and told them we needed to get moving on this project, I-73 and the port of Georgetown,” Rice said. “They approved this in May and now we’re ready to get it going. We’re also very close to a permit for I-73.”

Much of the clearing work had been done on S.C. 31 several years ago but was abruptly halted.

South Carolina DOT Commissioner Mike Wooten pulled no punches when explaining the delay in the project.

“Had it not been for the environmentalists, we would have been riding on this road two years ago,” Wooten said. “Two groups, the Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Environmental Law Center, delayed this project and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.”

He added that the current segment would fill 24 fewer acres of wetlands than the plans that had been originally approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.

S.C. 31 will be extended from its current stopping point at S.C. 544 to S.C. 707 just north of Moss Creek Road, covering almost four miles.

This project will also include a bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.

The cost for this segment will be close to $230 million with most of the money coming from the State Infrastructure Bank.

Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said construction would probably begin near the first of the year with completion slated for spring of 2017.

The S.C. 707 widening project will begin near Enterprise Road and run 9.2 miles to U.S. 17 in Georgetown County.

The project will also include an interim intersection at Big Block Road.

The cost for the project is estimated between $100 million and $105 million to be paid for by the Riding on a Penny one-cent capital projects sales tax.

It, too, is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

Tom O’Dare • 488-7261

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I'm the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald, a weekly newspaper serving South Carolina's Grand Strand. I cover municipal government in Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach. Know of a good story? Call me at 843-488-7258.

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