Taxpayers in Horry County won't have to worry about bearing a tax to build bear tunnels along International Drive, after a recent budget meeting put the idea into hibernation.
Part of the deal keeping construction alive on the 5.3 mile road connecting Carolina Forest to Highway 90, was that the Department of Natural Resources required three bear tunnels (interchangeably called bridges) to be built. The idea was that bears, which are commonly seen in Carolina Forest, could cross underneath the road. An eight-foot tall barbed wire fence running parallel to the road was also part of those plans.
The idea of paying for these items didn't sit well with many residents over the past four years, according to Dennis DiSabato, spokesperson for the Carolina Forest Civic Association.
"People in the community felt like, 'Who's going teach the bears to go over the bridges?' So it's been met with some chagrin," DiSabato said.
"They do a lot of damage to vehicles and they cause deaths, but if there's just a smattering of them, it's a lot of money for only a few bear," Carolina Forest resident Dierdra Marshall said.
Horry County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier says there were no specific plans as to where the three tunnels were going to be put on International Drive. She says that not building them is mostly a cost-cutting move, which will save the county more than $2 million.
DNR also conducted studies to make sure the decision was okay to make.
"People are delighted with the fact that we're not wasting that money on the bear bridges. It's going to make the cost to the taxpayer a lot less, it's going to hopefully get the project done quicker, and hopefully we won't have too many incidents with bear," DiSabato said.
The county is still required to put barrier gates on each end of International Drive.
The county also plans to submit their request for environmental permits for the International Drive paving project by the end of the month, with construction slated for the end of next year or early 2015.