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      Construction to begin soon on Backgate interchange

      Horry County officials say despite the lack of bulldozers and hardhats, progress is being made on the new interchange at Highway 17 and Highway 707 at the backgate of the old air force base.

      "People aren't seeing the dirt moving and the big heavy equipment out there, but you've got a lot of right of way acquisitions, utility work," said the county's spokeswoman, Lisa Bourcier.

      The SC Department of Transportation is the project manager, and before major construction can begin, DOT officials want to sort out the land acquisitions.

      Already, a Kangaroo gas station, Subway, and Jiffy Lube have shut their doors to make way for the new interchange. DOT will compensate those businesses for the takeover of their land.

      Mike Barbee, the project manager for DOT, said that stage is almost complete, and he said construction could begin by late summer.

      The interchange is one of several major projects slated to begin in 2010, though the backgate interchange will cost the most at an estimated $90-100 million.

      In addition to the interchange, Bourcier said construction should begin on the Aynor overpass, and the widening of Highway 707 and Glenns Bay Road.

      Bourcier said all those projects will mean jobs for contractors and will have a positive economic impact on the county.

      "It has been generating jobs for the county. And with these construction jobs, even though they are being led by the DOT, those are opportunities for businesses."

      For more information on the projects, visit this web site.

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