SCDOT: Highway 31 to cost $4.9M more than expected

    Crews work on Highway 31 Thursday near Highway 544. (Taggart Houck/WPDE)<br>

    Take a ride down Highway 31 heading south near Socastee, and you’ll have to exit to Highway 544.

    For five years, people along the Grand Strand have been waiting for the stretch toward Georgetown to open.

    “I mean, it’s gonna open traffic up a whole lot better than before,” said Merrick Goff, who lives in Murrells Inlet.

    According to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, crews could finish work as soon as April.

    Since the 2014, they’ve been working. The entire project was estimated to cost between $225 million and $237 million.

    The department now said because of delays for weather, it’s had to add $4.9 million to extend the contract. There have been delays from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence and a wet winter.

    “Recently, it has been a very rainy winter, so that definitely plays a large role in the delay,” said Leah Quattlebaum with SCDOT.

    Some people said they were concerned it would put a strain on tax dollars. Quattlebaum said that isn’t the case. She said SCDOT builds a contingency budget for every project just in case.

    “And that contingency can cover the cost of materials going up, delays and anything else that may happen during construction that was unanticipated,” she said.

    She said $4.9 million isn’t unusual for a project of this size. Either way, lots of people like Goff are ready to test out the new road. He believes it will be worth the wait.

    “The traffic would be more for out-of-towners come in so they’ll have more tourists come in,” he said. “I think it’ll be wonderful.”

    The construction company has not yet replied with comment.

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