Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Clif Smith has fired the first public road salvo in the race for Horry County Council’s District 5.
The Murrells Inlet resident called for giving the proposed Southern Evacuation Lifeline (SELL) highway project a higher funding priority as a way to help alleviate mounting traffic congestion problems and expedite hurricane evacuations.
The hurricane evacuation route, a nearly 30-mile highway that would connect the Surfside Beach and Garden City areas with US 501 and SC 22 to the north of Conway, eventually creating a full circular limited access road around Conway, has been on hold for nearly two years, awaiting a new $3.5 million environmental impact study. The county and transportation planners have been seeking funds for the study, but have so far been unsuccessful.
The original route has been changed and studied at least since 2003 and while planners have come close, environmental concerns and route changes have delayed the road.
“A survey of over 300 members of the public, referenced in the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan, indicates that 56 percent were not satisfied or very unsatisfied with existing congestion. Without needed transportation improvements, like the Southern Evacuation Lifeline (SELL) highway, the level of service on most area highway corridors is predicted to dramatically deteriorate,” Smith said in a letter to Mark Hoeweler and the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study Policy Committee, in response to GSATS’ draft congestion management process for its 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan.
Smith is one of four Republicans running for the open county council seat. Other candidates include Reese Boyd III, Chuck Ottwell and Tyler Servant. There are no Democrats in the contest. Councilman Paul Price has opted not to seek re-election.