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      Hope for Grand Strand commuters, 5 new electronic signs may get approved

      The Grand Strand Area Transportation Study is about to give final approval for five new changeable message signs that would provide real-time travel information.

      Officials explained that the signs would also display amber alerts, fog messages and traffic problems.

      "They're variable message boards which will display the time from your current location to the destination," explained Chris Clark with the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments.

      If approved, there will be two signs on Highway 501, one on Highway 22 and two on U.S. 17.

      "These five new ones are strategically placed so that they're at decision points so you can choose, do I want to go on 501 or do I want to go on 544 so if there's an incident or there's some congestion on 501 and 544's going to be quicker for you, you are provided with that information in real time."

      Commuter Dave Hoff thinks the project will be good for commuters.

      "They know how long it takes to get to work or get home, wherever they got to be when they have to be at a certain place at a certain time."

      According to Clark, purchasing and installing the signs will cost about one million dollars, at about $200,000 per electronic sign.

      He added that 80% of that will come from the federal government and the rest from the state gas tax.

      Some commuters like Toni Trainor say that's too high of a cost. "I think it is a waste of money especially with our government at this point. We don't have money. We need to put it where it is necessary."

      Clark said they will continue to accept comments and suggestions from the public until November 21st. They can be emailed to mhoeweler@wrcog.org.

      If the project is approved in January, it would be another two years before the signs are installed.