After years of waiting, a paving delay is welcome
Work began this week to repave the main road on Pawleys Island, but the work won’t be completed until spring.
And that’s fine by town officials who have waited two years for the project to start. They hope the extra time can be used to make improvements to drainage on the island.
“This could be a positive overall,” Mayor Brian Henry said.
The state Department of Transportation is repaving Myrtle Avenue from the Birds Nest section on the south end to First Street on the north end. The repaving will continue along First Street to Atlantic Avenue and then north to the dead end. The work was approved in 2021, but the contract allowed it to be completed by the end of 2024.
Until last week, the town thought the work would be done in the spring. But after a meeting last week with DOT staff, Administrator Dan Newquist said he learned it would start this week.
“Welcome DOT,” he said. “This, frankly, was overwhelming.”
Because of the short notice, the Georgetown County Water and Sewer District didn’t have time to upgrade the manhole covers along the route of the repaving. New covers needed to be ordered.
Police Chief Mike Fanning pointed out that the last time the covers were replaced the utility found corrosion damage to the pipes.
After letting property owners know to expect paving to start this week, Newquist started to hear concerns. DOT then agreed that the contractor would put down asphalt to level the pavement this week, then return in the spring to complete the work.
The town hopes that the added pavement, although only 1.25 inches on average, will help reduce flooding from high tides and during storms.
Paul Groce, an island resident, praised the town and DOT for improving the project on the fly.
“A common sense solution has allowed DOT to reallocate a whole lot of material that had been allocated for driveways,” he said.
Instead, it will be used to fill low areas.
Henry noted that DOT has promised to repair damaged drain pipes when they’re found. It makes sense to find them before the repaving, he said.
The town got $250,000 in the state budget for drainage improvements along with word last week it will receive another $150,000 from the S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority for the same purpose.
Newquist wants to update the survey of the island’s drainage system. He went looking for drains with the public works crew last week. “They are hard to find,” he said.
“This may be an opportunity for us,” Henry said.
Council Member Rocky Holliday said it will also allow time to make sure that the new pavement doesn’t dam up water on people’s lots.