The South Carolina Department of Transportation Commission voted Jan. 19 to proceed with $4 million in federal transportation funds and will provide the $1 million state match required to access the funds.
The funding comes in the form of a Congressional earmark and will be used to begin the environmental process for a new highway project that will provide an evacuation route for the Grand Strand area.
“The Grand Strand area, and particularly the rapidly developing southern part of Horry County, is in critical need of an evacuation route in the event of hurricane or other disasters,” said SCDOT Executive Director Elizabeth S. Mabry. “The project would also improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and enhance safety on east west roadways such as SC 544 and U.S. 501.”
“The southern portion of Grand Strand is anticipated to double in population over the next 20 years, and current evacuation routes are not adequate to move several thousands of residents and visitors safely and efficiently,” said SCDOT Commissioner Bob Harrell Sr., of the 1st Congressional District. “This project will also provide much improved access for many motorists including tourists, Georgetown and Horry County residents who work at the beach areas, and for those traveling to Coastal Carolina University and Horry-Georgetown Technical College.”
Elected officials from Horry and Georgetown Counties have created a Task Force of local officials and citizens from both counties, called SELL, short for Southern Evacuation LifeLine. SELL will take the lead role in developing the Environmental Impact Statement with the technical support of SCDOT. As a first step, SELL will be hosting public information meetings this Spring to seek public input to begin the environmental process.