Neither rain, a busy tourist weekend nor a holiday is getting in the way of construction on the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach.
Work on the $12 million attraction on the oceanfront beside Plyler Park - scheduled to debut in a little more than three weeks - will continue this weekend, and the city has taken the rare step of allowing the work to temporarily block traffic on Ocean Boulevard during the traditionally busy Easter period.
Both northbound lanes on the Boulevard near Mr. Joe White Avenue will be blocked from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. today, and possibly from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Easter Sunday to allow crews to unload parts for the wheel, city spokesman Mark Kruea said. After those times, the outside northbound lane will be closed daily until 3 p.m., when traffic on the Boulevard typically picks up, he said. The other northbound lane will stay open after the early morning closure so traffic will have one northbound lane to use for most of the day.
The traffic setup was used for the first time Friday, as crews continued to work amid off-and-on showers.
"Our goal is to limit the traffic interruption as much as possible while allowing them to get some work done," Kruea said.
Extra help will be on hand to direct traffic, and the city set up additional paths to help pedestrians cross the street near the construction site, Kruea said.
"This is not ideal," he said. "It has to be done. We are taking extra precautions for vehicular and pedestrian safety."
Crews installed the 25,000-pound hub for the wheel earlier this week, and started assembling the spokes for the wheel Friday, said Chris Trout, the SkyWheel's general manager. The wheel will begin to take shape in the coming days.
The 200-foot-tall SkyWheel, along with Jimmy Buffett's LandShark Bar & Grill that also is under construction on the site, are scheduled to open May 19. Some of the SkyWheel's parts were delayed for about a week at customs at the Charleston port, and the work couldn't continue until those parts arrived, Trout said.
"We certainly don't want to lose any more days than we have to," he said. "The city worked out a special plan with us."
The attraction still is on track for the May 19 opening, Trout said.
Myrtle Beach typically does not allow major road work or other traffic interruptions on tourist-heavy roads such as the Boulevard during the summer or other traditionally busy tourism times, including Easter. There was no way around it this time, Kruea said.
"It's one of those things that has to be done," he said. "Things are simply unavoidable."