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      Highway 501 widening at Carolina Forest will take longer than expected

      Anyone who travels Highway 501 near Carolina Forest knows it's a traffic nightmare. Although there's a plan to relieve some of that congestion, commuters will have to wait a little longer before a change is made.

      The plan to widen Highway 501 at Carolina Forest has been in the works for more than 2 years.

      Construction on a third lane northbound between Waccamaw Pines Drive and Gardner Lacy Road was already supposed to be underway, but now it won't get started until sometime in October.

      Mike Barbee, with the State Department of Transportation said environmental permitting, design issues and cost are all contributing to the delay.

      Barbee added that in July and August, they will receive bids from contractors.

      "As everybody knows, 501 is a very heavily traveled. I would say overburdened roadway and this project will provide some additional capacity to the northbound lanes" Barbee said.

      Commuters say it's about time.

      "The way it's designed now, cars are merging into each other which backs the traffic up again up to the second red light way up there," said Robert Betz.

      In the end, a third lane could mean more than just less traffic.

      "There could be a reduction in those kinds of accidents where people are trying to merge into traffic or speed up and merge into traffic so it's a possibility there could be a reduction in accidents," said Barbee.

      But there will be headaches while the lane is being constructed.

      "It's going to benefit for the long term so the short term to fix it, I'll just deal with it," said Singleton.

      Barbee explained it will be about a year or two before the project is completed.

      It's being funded by the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study at a cost of about 2 to 3 million dollars.