MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Two new road construction projects are now underway in Mt. Pleasant to help ease traffic in the fast growing area.
The town has plans to put an Interstate 526 overpass bridge at Hungryneck Boulevard over Highway 17, and another project will widen and improve Highway 17 from I-526 to Darrell Creek Trail. Town officials say it will ease traffic concerns.
"Highway 17 is called the avenue of tourism for South Carolina. Most of the vehicle traffic comes from Myrtle Beach. We need this to be widened. It's as simple as that," Mt. Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails said.
Many of the sweetgrass basket stands, which have long been woven into the landscape of Highway 17, will have to relocate or move away from the road slightly if they haven't already, which was a concern.
"Whenever something like this happens, it takes away from paying bills, house payment, whatever. We depend on that money," Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Association board member Barbara Manigault said.
Manigault says because of construction she had to move near the corner of 17 and Porcher's Bluff Road. She says basket makers are thankful they won't have to leave this part of Highway 17 completely.
"You get to spend a lot of time a lot of time with the folks that stop, traveling through, explain your city, where to go and eat, best places to stay. We are a good visitor's center so to speak," Manigault said.
Aside from road construction north of I-526, finalizing the town's budget and the new Shem Creek Park are also major projects being worked on here by the Town of Mount Pleasant.
"Those docks are absolutely beautiful, they'll be ten foot wide, ADA compliant. You can take your family out there soon. I think it's going to be a month ahead of time, hopefully finished by July," Mayor Swails said.
Mayor Swails says the town will also be approving a lottery system to rent out space for six shrimp boats to dock on town property and finalizing the upcoming fiscal year budget which will hopefully include three percent raises for town employees.
The road projects are estimated to cost more than $57 million for the Hungryneck Boulevard interchange and $42 million for the widening of 17.
The estimated completion date of the town's projects is spring of 2013.
Charleston County also has a project already underway to widen Johnnie Dodds Boulevard from the Ravenel Bridge to Bowman Road. That project should be complete by December of next year.