Work set to begin soon at busy Grand Strand intersection

Every day traffic piles up at the back gate of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

It gets worse in the summer and during peak travel times, and it's been that way for years.

"It is a problem area. The traffic lights, really long traffic light, and I've seen traffic backed up all the way to Harrelson Boulevard in the mall area at times," said Joe Lunsford who moved here from the Midwest last year.

"After 2 o'clock in the afternoon, it's chaos," added Dennis Caruso.

The intersection is one that's hard to avoid. And after waiting several minutes at the light, drivers aren't always patient.

"So many people are trying to get across and make the light doesn't happen, and there's a lot of crashes certain times of the day," said Caruso.

Relief is finally in sight.

The project includes eliminating the traffic light and creating an interchange so that traffic can flow freely on Highway 17 Bypass and on Highway 707.

The work is expected to begin in a mid to late April. The Department of Transportation is close to naming the company that will be awarded the interchange contract. DOT officials say lanes will be shifted on the Bypass, not closed, while the work is done.

"I'm looking forward to when they get it done. I'm not looking forward to the problems it's going to cause in the meantime. I'm looking forward to the results. It'll be a big asset to the community to have that traffic flow a lot better," said Lunsford.

The work at the Backgate is funded by the penny tax Horry County voters approved in 2007.

Crews will work during the day and at night.

It's expected to take about three years.

Other projects the extra tax funds include the Aynor Overpass which is under construction, and the expansion of Glenns Bay Road in Surfside Beach which is still in the right of way acquisition process.