MCT REGIONAL NEWS
Florence Morning News, S.C.
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Sep. 5—One of the casualties of reversing traffic to carry people away from the Grand Strand during a governor-ordered mandatory evacuation is that when those four lanes get into Marion County, they cut the county in half. On the south end of Marion County evacuees traveling off the coast via U.S. Highway 378 are funneled into one lane through the county, as it is a two-lane highway. To the north, those leaving the coast and traveling west will most likely be on U.S. Highway 501-or U.S. Highway 76. Those arteries disect Marion County east to west and traffic is funneled into two lanes exiting the county.
At a Wednesday meeting of county officials in Marion, Department of Transportation and Highway Patrol representatives on hand reminded county officials that routine county traffic cannot move as freely through the county and that most roads on and off the evacuation routes, especially through the city of Marion, will be blocked.
“You need to make plans now,' officials were told, for example, to stage emergency response vehicles at strategic points in the county. The evacuation process through the county should not last more than 12 hours, a DOT employee said, and during that time, Arial Crossroads, near the east edge of the county, is the only cross over point to get from one end of the county to the other, he added.
To see the Northern Conglomerate Coastal evacuation routes, visit http://www.scdot.org ,select evacuation routes.
The only time lane reversals have been used from the coast through Marion County was in 2004 when Hurricane Charley came ashore after striking Florida into South Carolina's Cape Romain. The center then moved off shore before making another landfall at North Myrtle Beach. At that point in time, U.S. Highway 501 was two lanes, as well. Now, that highway is four lanes, providing an extra extra lane out of the county.