By Paul Gable
The City of Myrtle Beach made initial plans for the Memorial Day weekend Atlantic Beach Bikefest crowd control public yesterday.
The plan calls for controlled traffic patterns from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. during the nights of Memorial Day weekend plus increased police presence within the city.
According to sources familiar with the plans, the City of Myrtle Beach is seeking 400 officers from outside jurisdictions to help beef up police presence during Atlantic Beach Bikefest. Horry County and North Myrtle Beach are seeking 150 additional officers each.
Sources tell us the city is still considering hiring security personnel from private security firms in addition to the planned increase in police officers.
The city believes the planned, enforced traffic pattern will eliminate the problems that arose last year when sections of Ocean Boulevard were blocked by traffic and pedestrians for periods of time and mayhem broke loose in the south end of Myrtle Beach.
The new traffic pattern will turn Ocean Blvd. into a south only route to the light at U.S. 17 Business by the entrance to Market Common. Traffic will have to turn left onto U.S. 17 Business and go south to the light at 544 where it will turn west to Hwy 31. Traffic will then proceed up the on ramp to 31 travelling to the S.C. 22 exit to Myrtle Beach, down U.S. 17 to the break by Myrtle Manor retirement home where traffic will be directed onto U.S. 17 Bypass down to 29th Avenue North where it will turn east and go back to Ocean Boulevard.
The plan also calls for what was referred to as a saturation of police officers in the north end of the city concentrating on Kings Highway and North Ocean Boulevard.
It is interesting to note that the planned traffic pattern and saturated police presence appears to be aimed at eliminating potential traffic and other problems from the area of Grande Dunes, the Dunes Club and Pine Lakes residential areas, as well as the “Golden Mile” along Ocean Boulevard where the vast majority of ocean front residences are located. These areas are all strong supporters of the current Myrtle Beach City Council and home to five of its seven members.
It appears that the south end of the city is again getting the short end of the stick.
City officials said this is only the initial plan presented and changes may come especially as Horry County becomes involved in the process and citizen input is heard.