Concerns over Backgate Project

People we spoke with told us they are worried that in a couple of years they won't have the kind of freedom to access the bypass they enjoy right now.

Traffic backs-up even on the best days at the intersection of Highway 707 and the back gate of the former Air Force Base at Highway 17 Bypass. Adding the footprint of a traffic cloverleaf in such tight quarters is a huge challenge for the SCDOT.

This $50 million project, paid for by your penny sales tax, could run way over budget because a major component of asphalt is petroleum.

Mike Barbee, Project Manager with the SCDOT said, "Construction equipment you know, it has to fill-up just like you do in your car, so we're feeling the pinch really on two fronts."

People are worried most about access to the Bypass and to their neighborhoods and businesses.

"The signal at the back gate will at least allow the traffic to stop at some point from the back-up," said Lori Cockfield who lives on a drive that will be impacted directly by the construction, "But without the signal there, it's gonna be continuous flow."

Helen Smith, lifetime resident of Socastee says the traffic is already a problem with the patterns we have in place right now.

"17 Bypass going in towards Socastee, there are two left turns going onto Farrow Parkway. There's one right turn going onto Socastee Boulevard, even their model shows it's gonna be stacking up forever, we have that problem today."

Businesses were initially concerned they might be blown out to make way for the ramps. According to Mike Barbee with the SCDOT, only one business is at risk right now.

"Through design and minimizing that footprint, we're able to save those businesses."

Right now, it looks like only the Kangaroo gas station at that busy intersection will get moved out.

The DOT is hoping to break ground on this project by 2010 and complete it by 2013.

The DOT tells NewsChannel 15 it will review the feedback they got from Thursday's public meeting and hold another meeting in the near future with potential tweaks to the project.