In many ways, Hurricane Florence traumatized residents of Horry County, particularly those living in Conway.
As floodwater crept over roads and into homes, many feared the county might be cut off from the rest of the state. It almost happened. S.C. 22, S.C. 9 and even U.S. 501, for a time, closed because of the flood, creating massive traffic jams.
State and local leaders became so concerned about keeping U.S. 501 open that the S.C. National Guard built dikes on either side of the highway near Lake Busbee to assure a lifeline remained open between Conway and Myrtle Beach.
Thankfully, U.S. 501 stayed open to traffic. However, many people living near Conway are convinced the dikes served as dams, causing their homes to flood.
What happens the next time a catastrophic flood hits?
Conway businessman Jimmy Jordan has put forward an idea for a new road that I think would serve as an insurance policy against future flooding and provide greater access to southern beaches, such as Surfside Beach and Garden City.
Jordan has patched together a plan that calls for construction of a new four-lane road from U.S. 378 to S.C. 544. It would be an extension of the Conway Perimeter Road.
The route would start near Creel Street in Conway and join S.C. 544 between Singleton Ridge Road and Myrtle Grande Drive, just east of Coastal Carolina University.
About four miles in length, the route would skirt the southern edge of Lake Busbee. Interestingly, most of the property owners Jordan has approached seem to be onboard with the idea, even the manager of the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge.
Jordan has a great idea. I just wish the $25 million earmarked for the Southern Evacuation Lifeline, part of RIDE III, could be spent on this instead.
Rather than raising the roadbed on U.S. 501, I’d like to see the state construct Jordan’s alternative road.