A couple of momentous events took place over a scorching hot Memorial Day in Horry County.
First, the skeptics had to admit defeat when the Main Street Bridge in Conway opened two days prior to Memorial Day. Some had predicted it would be July 4 or Labor Day before the bridge opened.
I was also amazed that the 23-mile bike loop enacted by Myrtle Beach was not used during the bike week rally. Officials said there was not enough motorcycle traffic to warrant using the controversial loop.
The Main Street Bridge closed in January to allow crews to repair the road bed. It was originally thought the bridge would reopen by the end of March, far ahead of the tourism season.
However, closer inspection showed more extensive repairs were needed and the date to reopen the bridge kept sliding backward, not unusual for highway work.
(The S.C. 31 extension is two years behind schedule.)
My dire predictions of massive traffic jams associated with the bridge closing never materialized. To my surprise, traffic on U.S. 501 flowed fairly smoothly. There were traffic jams at times of the day, but nothing as severe as I envisioned.
I suspect another bridge renovation may soon be required and this one would definitely snarl traffic. The U.S. 501 bridge over the Waccamaw River is rusting away and it appears some of the ironwork has collapsed. Hopefully repairs can be made without having to close this vital bridge.
The madness that once brought traffic on Ocean Boulevard to a near standstill has apparently been overcome.
On three successive nights, Myrtle Beach officials decided not to open the so-called “loop” that carried bikers far into the county before allowing them back onto Ocean Boulevard.
Myrtle Beach has been trying to discourage bikers of all races from congregating in the city for many years and their efforts seem to be paying off.
Myrtle Beach imposed mandatory helmet regulations in hopes of running off motorcylists in 2008. The law was overturned by the S.C. Supreme Court two years later.
The message got through to the Harley-Davidson riders and they do not flock to Myrtle Beach in great numbers like they used to do.
They never faced the heavy restrictions that were put on bikers attending the Memorial Day bikefest.
Those who did, many of them of African American descent, had to confront a heavily beefed up police presence as well as the “loop” that many considered racial in nature.
Those interviewed by the media this year say they feel affronted by the myriad of rules and regulations impacting their stay.
Many residents will say farewell to the bikers with great glee.
Others will feel Myrtle Beach has alienated a group of people who added to the local economy.