Achilles Heel of Atlantic Beach Bikefest Planning

By Paul Gable

The 40 mile traffic loop proposed by City of Myrtle Beach officials is quickly becoming the Achilles Heel of Atlantic Beach Bikefest planning.

Yesterday, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus proposed an alternate plan during the county’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

The Lazarus Plan would take traffic down Ocean Boulevard to the traffic light at Market Commons. A right turn on U.S. 17 Business to Harrelson Boulevard where a left turn onto Harrelson Boulevard would take traffic to U.S. 17 Bypass. A right turn on U.S. 17 Bypass to the intersection at 29 Avenue North with a right turn onto 29th Avenue North to Ocean Boulevard would complete the loop

The Lazarus plan would contain traffic within the Myrtle Beach area instead of spreading it out throughout the county, which would stretch law enforcement capabilities to the limit trying to maintain control.

Responding to Lazarus’ plan in local media, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said “we’re going to move these people out of the city limits of Myrtle Beach” and that he doesn’t want the loop decision to become “Myrtle Beach’s problem.”

In a short segment on a weekend community events talk show, Rhodes called out Myrtle Beach NAACP President Mickey James to support the Myrtle Beach plan or, Rhodes said, it would be James’ fault if things go wrong.

This leads to a conclusion that Myrtle Beach city officials are basically taking a stance of ‘My way on the highway’ by insisting everyone agree with their proposed 40 mile loop.

Rhodes also rather disingenuously called for elected officials to stay out of the planning process and leave decisions up to city and county administrators and police officials. This from a city administration that passed draconian new laws in 2009, most of which had to be repealed, trying to control both the Atlantic Beach Bikefest and Harley Davidson rally participants.

These decisions are political and Rhodes knows it. Why else did the city pass its 2009 laws attempting to discourage bike weeks, then, pass its 2009 one-cent ad tax to replace anticipated lost revenue from those same bike weeks?

Wasn’t it Rhodes who was agreeing with Gov. Nikki Haley last week that the Atlantic Beach Bikefest should end?

Myrtle Beach wants to have its own way, but it will not get it by trying to bully elected officials from other local jurisdictions away from taking part in the planning process. If the bullying continues, the whole planning process will go down the drain.


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