Traffic going through Georgetown will be able to avoid some of the congestion at Five Points, once a $8.6 million paving project is completed in 2021.
Georgetown County Administrator Sel Hemingway outlined the project to pave the 2 ½-mile dirt portion of Brick Chimney Road during a special County Council workshop on Tuesday, July 30.
A story in the Georgetown Times / South Strand News in April 2017, reported that the Capital Improvement Project was expected to cost $5.8 million and the anticipated completion would be in Fiscal Year 2020. A list of “Remaining Projects” on July 30 showed the higher cost and later target completion time.
“The revised estimate of $8.6 million is based on recent engineering estimates as they have progressed in their work. We revised our estimated completion timeline based on the current estimate of going out for bids in the Fall of this year.”
“Prior cost estimates, including the October 2018 estimate, were based on general conditions before the geotechnical work was done,” Hemingway said. “Once the engineering firm completed their detailed work on the specifications for the bridge, the wetland issues and soil conditions; they were able to generate a more accurate estimate. Additionally, construction costs have also increased as well.”
A status report given to Council during the workshop showed $492,518 was to be spent in FY 2019. That likely includes the engineering work. In FY 2020, $5,162,811 is budgeted for the project. Another $2.8 million is budgeted for FY 2021 to complete the Phase I project.
This and other projects are funded through the “penny sales tax” referendum approved by voters in 2014.
“Brick Chimney Road is a huge project,” Hemingway said. “Phase I will be creating a ‘bypass’ if you will from 701 North all the way around to 521. The ultimate goal is not only to create better access for local traffic, but to offer an alternative route for trucks coming in from the north – or headed out to the north – they can use that access to bypass the busy district coming in from the north near Walmart … and through Five Points and on through the city.”
“Phase I will be the improvement of Brick Chimney Road from its current intersection at Johnson Road to Highway 51. It’s quite an expensive project. It involves a big bridge over the IP Canal, as well as reconstruction of the roadway itself.”
Hemingway said bids for the project are expected to go out this Fall.
Currently, the paved portion of Brick Chimney Road ends where Johnson Road – which is paved – connects to it. Brick Chimney is a dirt road the rest of the way to Browns Ferry Road.
Cornerstone Baptist Church and the Lighthouse of Jesus Christ Church are at the intersection of those two roads.
Brick Chimney Road connects U.S. Highway 521/17A (also named Highmarket Street) with Browns Ferry Road (S.C. Highway 51).
Trucks – and cars — heading through Georgetown often meet at the area where U.S. 17 North and South, U.S. Highway 701 and U.S. Highways 521/17A come together. That Five Points intersection near the Ice House and several fast food restaurants combines tourist and beach traffic between Myrtle Beach and Charleston with local traffic, including pulpwood trucks and trucks carrying wire rod coils from the International Paper and Liberty Steel mills.
The Brick Chimney Road paving project will allow those truckers and auto traffic to travel the current and future portions of the road all the way from Browns Ferry Road to Highmarket Street. They could then head inland – west – towards Andrews or south towards Charleston without going through Five Points. Also, traffic from the northern and western parts of the county could connect with Brick Chimney Road and likewise avoid the often-congested Five Points area.
A later phase of the “bypass” project would involve extending Brick Chimney Road from S.C. 51 (Browns Ferry Road) over to North Fraser Street (U.S. Highway 701).