501 traffic woes begin

Traffic is starting to build up on highway 501 in Horry County.

CONWAY, S.C. (WPDE) - The tourism season is starting to pick up, and a telltale sign is increased traffic on Highway 501, a road some just can't avoid. It's a time of year locals have gotten used to, but not without groans. One of the top complaints about the Grand Strand is roads and the lack of options to get from one area to another.

Thousands of drivers use 501 for getting to work, school, or a vacation at the beach. Frustrating sums up what it's like to travel on it, especially during the summer.

"I just try to have really good music in my car. It takes my mind off of it. My stepdaughter calls it my road rage music, Enya, just so that it kind of is relaxing my nerves," said Jennifer Aguruso.

Music isn't her only strategy for dealing with the traffic. "I try to combine my trips. So if I'm in Carolina Forest for one thing, I try to get all of my things done so that I can avoid it. So that I don't have to come back and ping pong across town. I try to multi-task," she explained. Arguruso's office is in Conway, so she travels on Highway 501 frequently.

It's the same for Diane Franczak. She and her husband typically stay home on weekends during the summer. "We do try to avoid 501 by using Postal Way, but a lot of times using Postal Way and still having to come onto 501 at Carolina Forest Blvd the traffic is usually backed up quite a bit."

For those living in Carolina Forest and the north end of Myrtle Beach, the paving of International Drive to Highway 90 will serve as a way to avoid Highway 501. But that project isn't slated to begin until 2013 and a county official said it will take about a year to complete. Extending the road is funded by the "riding on a penny" sales tax and it's the last project on the list to be complete.

"I think it would improve the potential to market this area, if the infrastructure was improved, especially in the Carolina Forest area," said Franczak.

If you want to check traffic conditions before you head out, SCDOT has live cameras at major intersections across the state.