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Highway 707 widening-ribbon cutting ceremony held

  • Friday, November 15, 2013

The wheels are finally starting to roll along the SC 31 extension and SC 707 in Horry County.

Federal, state and county officials gathered Nov. 6 just past the SC 544 terminus of the road to celebrate getting permits to extend SC 31 to 707, and to widen 707 from its quiet two-lane status to a five-lane roadway complete with curbs and gutters as well as sidewalks.

Included in the project is a new bridge over the Intracoastal waterway.

The work on both projects — involving about 14 miles of road and interchange construction — is scheduled to be completed by 2017, about three years behind schedule.

Depending on whom you talk to, the delay was caused by a project redesign or by conservation groups that threatened to file suit to halt the work because of wetland concerns.

But the finger-pointing was far from the speeches from Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman; U.S. Rep. Tom Rice; and Don Leonard, the chairman of the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which will provide a grant for part of the money to pay for the project.

Additional funds will be repaid from the Ride on a Penny sales tax assessment for infrastructure approved by county voters.

“If it weren’t for Don Leonard, this project wouldn’t have happened,” said Rice, who was the council chairman when the funding was approved.

“I just love the sight of orange cones and smell of black asphalt,” said Mike Wooten, the District 7 commissioner on the SC Department of Transportation, and a long-time advocate of the project.

The officials promised to keep road closings to a minimum, but said that because of the scope of the project, some roadwork would necessitate a change in traffic patterns.

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