MURRELLS INLET -- State Rep. Lee Hewitt, R-Murrells Inlet, Wednesday said that a Grand Strand transportation plan needs to give a higher priority to the Southern Evacuation Lifeline road project and Georgetown Bypass to reduce traffic congestion and expedite hurricane evacuations, particularly for the Waccamaw Neck area of Georgetown County.
In a letter to the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study on their draft 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Hewitt wrote “Concerns about transportation, particularly growing traffic congestion on the Waccamaw Neck and hurricane evacuation needs, are among the top issues I hear about from constituents. Development of the Southern Evacuation Lifeline road project and a bypass around the city of Georgetown must be given a much higher priority in the transportation plan.”
Hewitt cites studies by SCDOT and the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce that say the SELL project will reduce traffic congestion, improve road network efficiency and significantly expedite hurricane evacuations, particularly for Georgetown County.
“With the soon to be completed widening of Hwy 707 and the upcoming extension of Hwy 31 to North Carolina, traffic from these two roads will flow into Murrells Inlet and the Waccamaw Neck,” Hewitt said. “There needs to be traffic relief valves for the Waccamaw Neck in the form of the SELL and Georgetown Bypass.”
“The SELL and Georgetown Bypass road projects are vital to reducing traffic congestion and vastly expediting hurricane evacuations. On behalf of my constituents, I ask that GSATS give these projects a much higher priority in the transportation plan,” Hewitt wrote.
The SELL is a proposed 28-mile controlled access highway connecting Hwy 31 with U.S. 378 that would improve access across the Waccamaw River between Conway and Georgetown.
The plan places the SELL and Georgetown Bypass near the bottom of the prioritization list for S.C. roads in the GSATS planning area.
GSATS coordinates federally mandated urban transportation planning and is governed by a 24-person policy committee, with representatives from jurisdictions and transportation agencies from Brunswick County, N.C. to Georgetown.
The 30-day comment period on the plan ends Friday.
Hewitt, a Murrells Inlet Realtor, serves on the GSATS policy committee and was a member of the SELL Task Force.
Hewitt serves on the House Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee and Environmental Affairs Subcommittee, Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee and Offshore Drilling Ad-Hoc Committee.
He is also a former S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control board member.