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      Widening of U.S. 501 heading inland could be complete by Memorial Day

      If you drive on Highway 501 near Carolina Forest, you know it's a traffic nightmare, but we could be less than a month away from seeing some of that congestion relieved.

      The installation of a third lane heading inland on Highway 501 between Waccamaw Pines Drive and Gardner Lacy Road could be complete by Memorial Day according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

      "Next, they'll shift to working on the new lanes and once they get the base for those new lanes done you're going to see the final surfacing going over all of it," explained Anna Levy, Horry County resident construction engineer for the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

      The clock is ticking.

      Levy said if the paving isn't complete by Memorial Day, it will have to be put on hold until the fall. But with hurricane season on its way, commuters are hoping for the best.

      "Under our current Hurricane evacuation plan, the route out of Carolina Forest would be to come down Carolina Forest Boulevard onto 501 heading toward Florence so widening the lanes in that direction is certainly a move in the right direction," said Dennis DiSabato, Director of Public Relations at the Carolina Forest Civic Association.

      DiSabato added that with the high number of accidents along this section of 501, the new third lane will make driving a lot safer too.

      "When people are coming off Highway 31 and trying to get over to Carolina Forest Boulevard, it just makes it easier to merge from one lane to the next and reduces the amount of traffic incidents that you have out there."

      Weekday lane closures will go from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and from midnight to 8 a.m. on weekends.

      Officials say it could be 4 or 5 years before we see any work begin on the beach bound lanes.