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      SCDOT officials discuss Hwy. 31 extension, widening Hwy. 707

      The South Carolina Department of Transportation held a public hearing about the extension of Carolina Bays Parkway from Highway 544 to Highway 707 at Socastee High School on Tuesday.

      More that 200 people showed up to hear answers from the SC DOT. This is the first public meeting they've had since 2009.

      "I think it's a good project and I think it'll be good for many years to come," said Highway 707 resident Jon a th a n Hucks.

      The purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity to review and discuss individually, with representatives from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Horry County, plans for the proposed extension of Carolina Bays Parkway from SC 544 to SC 707 and the widening of SC 707 from just south of Enterprise Road in Horry County to US 17 in Georgetown County.

      Some residents had concerns about the flow of traffic that will be coming down the expanded 707, but the DOT says this will improve a problem that is already there.

      "The traffic is coming anyway. We're just trying to do a better job of accommodating it," said Mike Barbee, Regional Production Engineer for SCDOT.

      Carolina Bays Parkway will be extended from Highway 544, where it ends now, to Highway 707.

      Highway 707 will be extended from two lanes to five, and curbs and gutters will be added.

      "Carolina Bays is being funded by the State Infrastructure Bank and SC 707 is being funded by Horry County's local option sales tax program," said Barbee.

      Both projects are expected to start this summer. They are both expected to take at least three years to complete.