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      Groundbreaking ceremony held for two major road construction projects

      A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday for two major construction projects in Horry County.

      The Highway 707 widening project is set to begin construction.

      Work on the Carolina Bays Parkway Extension, also known as SC Highway 31, will also begin.

      Both projects are scheduled to be completed in late 2016 or early 2017.

      "This project was particularly complex and took much longer to get our environmental permits, just because of some investigations the Army Corps of Engineers asked us to do on previously constructed sections of the project," according to Mike Barbee, Department of Transportation Project Manager.

      When the project is finished in 2017, Highway 31 will connect to Highway 707, which is getting its own widening to five lanes, which will help relieve congestion on a 9-mile stretch that's become the home for 20 new housing divisions.

      "With the addition of the schools that we built down there and just the growth of that area, it's a project that's welcomed, I guess at this point," Horry County Infrastructure Director Steve Gosnel said.

      Together the two projects will cost more than $300 million, with much of the funding coming from the county's penny tax.