Traffic and access remain Horry County planning officials’ top concerns about the redevelopment of the Myrtle Beach Speedway site.
The county’s planning commission on Thursday discussed a requested rezoning for the nearly 46-acre property. Proposed uses for the land include a hotel, townhouses, medical offices, senior living space and warehouse storage. Retail or office space could also be on the site.
But access to the Speedway comes only from Hospitality Lane, a frontage road near the intersection of U.S. 501 and S.C. 31.
“Say they closed it down today and wanted to redevelop it as mostly commercial,” said David Schwerd, the county’s director of planning and zoning. “We would still have the same issue with traffic, which is how do we get them in and out of that single point of access?”
County officials are exploring possible infrastructure improvements for the area, which will be impacted when Postal Way is extended. Hospitality Lane has a single connection with Waccamaw Pines Drive, and that road will become part of the Postal Way extension.
“You will see an existing road construction project that should be coming through here and bringing a significant amount more traffic at this location,” Schwerd said.
Planning commission chairman Steven Neeves asked if it would be possible to add a traffic light at the intersection of Hospitality Lane and Waccamaw Pines Drive.
“There is a very remote possibility of adding a traffic signal at that location,” Schwerd said. “But it would take some work.”
That intersection lines up with an exit from Tanger Outlets. Schwerd said the traffic signal requirements of the S.C. Department of Transportation have been a challenge.
“It does not meet the spacing requirements currently for a signal,” he said. “So in order to install one, it would take a modification of SCDOT standards.”
He did say county staff have been looking at other possible traffic control measures there. But access remains the primary concern, particularly if townhouses are built on the property. Before any redevelopment could happen, a traffic study would be needed to determine what intersection improvements are necessary. Schwerd said the developer would be required to work with county and state DOT officials in addressing those concerns.
County staff said the proposed uses for the property are not as much of a concern as traffic and access. As for input from neighbors, Schwerd said the reaction had been mixed.
“We’ve had some concerns about traffic in general,” he said. “Anytime anybody hears the possibility of residential, there’s always a concern on traffic. But a significant number of the residents out there are happy that the noise will be going away.”
However, Schwerd noted that he’s also received calls and emails from fans upset about the void that will exist when the Speedway closes.
“They wouldn’t have a place to race anymore,” he said.
The commission will vote on the rezoning in a week. Once the commission makes its recommendation, the matter will go to Horry County Council for a final decision.
Originally a dirt track, the Myrtle Beach Speedway dates back to 1958. The track’s history includes serving as a training ground for some of the sport’s biggest stars, including three generations of Earnhardts and four generations of Pettys.