Traffic will stay backed up at the Backgate for three extra months

Completion of the Backgate road construction project on Highway 17 Bypass in Myrtle Beach has been pushed back three months because of the weather.

It was supposed to be finished in August, but now it will be November before it's complete.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation is building a bridge on 17 Bypass that will overpass SC 707. Once completed, cars traveling on 17 Bypass won't have to stop. Traffic traveling onto Highway 707 will take a ramp to exit.

Mike Barbee, the Project Manager with the Department of Transportation, told Horry County Council at their budget retreat that the two winter ice storms are the reason for the delay.

Barbee noted that the soil in the area is bad. Workers must let the dirt sit after it is placed, then go back to check the stability before continuing with road construction. If the dirt moves, more dirt must be added until the ground is stable and compact.

Horry County Spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier believes cars will be able to start using the interchange bridge in September. Once traffic moves onto the bridge, work will start on the on- and off-ramps.

The project, which was funded by the One-Cent Capital Projects Sales Tax for roads, will cost between $95 and $105 million. The federal government gave SCDOT $15 million in order to help the project along.

The original contract included financial incentives totaling $1.2 million if the contractor finished early. The contractor will not collect these incentives because of the revised timeline.