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May 13, 2021

Tourism Helps Fund Our Roads

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A Look At Horry County’s RIDE Program & The Road Improvements Of The Past 25 Years

Many things link together the 14 communities that make up the Grand Strand: our coastal charm, our world-class golf and certainly, our roads. In the last quarter century, as the Myrtle Beach area has experienced tremendous growth, our roadways have grown as well, improving the accessibility and connectivity of the Myrtle Beach area.

Case in point, the Carolina Bays Parkway or S.C. Hwy. 31. This 28-mile, six-lane, limited-access highway parallels the Intracoastal Waterway around Myrtle Beach and easily connects the North Strand to the South Strand. The roadway eases traffic along U.S. Hwy. 17 Bypass.

S.C. Hwy. 31 Timeline:

  • Phase One: U.S. Hwy. 501 north to S.C. Hwy. 9. Opened in 2002.
  • Phase Two: U.S. Hwy. 501 south to S.C. Hwy. 544. Opened in 2005.
  • Phase Three: S.C. Hwy. 544 to S.C. Hwy. 707. Opened in 2019.

S.C. Hwy. 31 and other roadway improvements throughout Horry County over the last 25 years have been part of the Road Improvement and Development Effort, or RIDE, program. These efforts have been largely funded through tourism-related spending (thank you visitors) in the form of either a hospitality fee or a voter-approved one-cent sales tax on retail sales, accommodations, and prepared food and beverage (groceries exempt).

Here’s a look at the three RIDE projects that have improved our roadway system:

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S.C. 31 with exits to U.S. 501 South to Myrtle Beach & Georgetown and North U.S. 501 to Conway

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Construction Timeframe:  1997 - 2009.
Funding: Approximately $1.1 billion with $550 million from a 1.5 percent local hospitality fee, $225 million from state and federal sources, and $385 million from the State Infrastructure Bank.

The completed projects included:

  • S.C. Hwy. 31 from S.C. Hwy. 9 to S.C. Hwy. 544;
  • S.C. Hwy. 22 improvements;
  • S.C. Hwy 707 improvements
  • S.C. Hwy. 544 widening and extension;
  • U.S. Hwy. 501 improvements;
  • S.C. Hwy. 90 intersection improvements;
  • the widening of U.S. 17 from U.S. 501 to 29th Avenue;
  • Robert Grissom Parkway;
  • Robert Edge Parkway;
  • Harrelson Boulevard widening;
  • Fantasy Harbour Bridge; and
  • Withers Swash Bridge replacement.

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U.S. Hwy. 17 Bypass and S.C. Hwy. 707 interchange (Back gate)

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Construction Timeframe: 2007-2019
Funding: In 2006, voters unanimously passed a one-cent sales tax in Horry County on all retail sales, accommodations and prepared food and beverage (groceries were exempt). The tax went into effect in 2007 and ended in 2014 with approximately $446 million collected.

Key projects included:

  • U.S. Hwy. 17 Bypass and S.C. Hwy. 707 interchange;
  • S.C. Hwy. 707 widening from Enterprise Rd. to the county line;
  • S.C. Hwy. 544 improvements;
  • Aynor S.C. Overpass construction;
  • Glenns Bay Rd. widening and interchange at U.S. 17 Bypass;
  • International Dr.ve paving; and
  • the paving and resurfacing of county roads.

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Construction Timeframe: 2018 - 2024
Funding: In 2016, Horry County voters overwhelmingly approved a one-cent sales tax on all retail sales, accommodations and prepared food and beverage (groceries are exempt). The tax went into effect 2017 and will expire on April 30, 2025, with approximately $592 million to be collected.

Key projects include:

  • U.S. Hwy. 501 Corridor improvements (S.C. Hwy. 31 to S.C. Hwy. 544);
  • US Hwy. 501 Realignment from Broadway Street to 7th Avenue North;
  • SC Hwy. 31 (Carolina Bays Parkway) Extension To SC/NC stateline;
  • US Hwy. 701 Widening – North to Loris;
  • S.C. Hwy. 9 East Widening – Loris;
  • Palmetto Pointe Blvd. Extension to S.C. Hwy. 544;
  • Fred Nash Blvd. connection to Harrelson Blvd.;
  • Carolina Forest Blvd. Widening; and
  • Forestbrook Rd. Widening.

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Ride 3 Project Map courtesy of HorryCounty.org
Click on map to view larger image.

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For more information on Horry County’s RIDE program, visit www.ridingonapenny.com.

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