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      Hwy 501 southbound lane construction to start in 2018

      The peak summer traffic has not yet arrived on the Grand Strand.

      However, the expansion of the northbound lane of Highway 501 is expected to make commuting a little better for those who live in and visit our area. From Waccamaw Pines Drive to Gardner Lacy Road, the highway is now three lanes.

      "I do appreciate the northbound expansion, and I really can't say how much that has helped now that it's finished, especially with the summer coming on," said Frank Rohrman.

      However, Highway 501 southbound lane is still two-lanes.

      "It's a pain. I was just telling my wife earlier that I don't really want to have to come this way too often," said Alan Greene.

      Other drivers say they try to avoid it at all costs, because the road bottlenecks in many places.

      According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation's Statewide Transportation Program, construction for expansion of the southbound lane will start in 2018. The widening will start at Garner Lacy Road and continue south to Highway 31.

      It won't start for four years, because right now, there's not enough funding for the widening project, which has an estimated cost of $7 million.

      "We've got things working and moving. Unfortunately it comes down to the dollar. It's a balanced budget, and we've got to balance it. Until we come up with ways to find more money, or shift other money to these projects, we are stuck at this point," said South Carolina Representative Mike Ryhal.

      Ryhal also said that it still would take a couple years for this project to be completed even if the money was there now. That's because environmental planning and other permits would have to be acquired.

      Ryhal said widening Highway 501's southbound lane is his top priority, because the highway is our area's lifeline.