012518 Murrells Inlet: Bike path faces hurdle as DOT asks for curbing
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The first phase of work is due to start this spring.

Murrells Inlet: Bike path faces hurdle as DOT asks for curbing

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

It will take an additional $250,000 to complete the first phase of a bike path that will run from Business 17 to Wachesaw Park. Murrells Inlet 2020, which originated the project, hopes to get that from Georgetown County’s share of state funding for local road projects.

The Inlet to Intracoastal, or I2I, path will eventually reach Wachesaw Landing. The $500,000 first phase will run up Macklen Avenue, through the Tidelands Health medical and hospital facilities to Old Kings Highway. Work is scheduled to start this spring.

But as part of the project, the state Department of Transportation wants curbing to maintain drainage and that will require resurfacing portions of the roads along the route. Additional funds are also needed to improve the intersection at Riverwood Drive where the path will cross Bypass 17.

“We are ready to go and break ground,” said Linda Lane, a member of the community group who has spearheaded the project. “We don’t want to kill a project that is ready to go.”

Murrells Inlet 2020 asked the County Transportation Committee to fill the gap in funding. It allocates a portion of the state gas tax known as C funds to local projects. The request has the support of County Council Member John Thomas, whose district includes Murrells Inlet.

Committee member Bill Hills, who plans to challenge Thomas in this year’s GOP primary, suggested that the funds be shifted from a county paving project that went over budget. That money is “basically sitting out there doing nothing,” Hills said. “We could at least get this one going.”

But Ray Funnye, the county Public Services director, said the paving project for three rural roads was already approved by County Council and just needed $440,000 in additional C funds to get under way. In addition, DOT wants Funnye’s department to handle the contracts for the resurfacing and intersection work for the inlet path. “It couldn’t go through our normal process,” said Nickey Lewis, DOT’s interim resident maintenance engineer in the county. “The county can do the project quicker than we can.”

Other transportation committee members said they needed more information before approving funds for the path. But Woodrow Doby, who chairs the committee, said they would consider funding after Funnye has a chance to talk with Murrells Inlet 2020 about the project. Although Funnye said he wasn’t aware of the need for help with the path, he would work with the group.

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