Residents gather to protest International Drive delays

GEORGETOWN, SC (WBTW) – The fight over International Drive continues. Protesters gathered outside the Coastal Conservation League’s Georgetown Office Wednesday, the group behind construction delays on the road.

International Drive was supposed to be paved in 2013, but a request for bear crossings stalled the project indefinitely. Protesters marched through the rain, holding up signs.

“Fast and most direct route to hospital,” that’s the message Drew Roasforte was trying to get across.

Rosaforte built a house nine years ago with the promise that International Drive would be paved. He said he’s done waiting.

“Believe me the bears, the woodpeckers, whatever the case may be, they’re going to find their own way,” argues Rosaforte.

Coastal Conservation League’s North Coast Office Director Nancy Cave said the road’s current construction plans don’t protect wildlife.

“You know, I don’t think the people in Horry County know how special Lewis Ocean Bay is and the animals that live there,” stated Cave.

The group originally requested bear tunnels, then electronic signals to alert drivers when an animal is crossing, but Horry County officials wouldn’t budge.

“You can’t put unreasonable demands in front of us,” said protester Maxine Gatling.

Gatling lives on Highway 90, and she says people’s lives should come first.

“I have never seen a bear. I’m sure they’re there but there’s plenty of places for them to go,” Gatling adds.

“Certainly human lives matter…no one is comparing, but if a bear hits a car and the driver is killed, what are they going to say then?” questions Cave.

Cave confirmed she received a letter from Horry County asking to return to the table for negotiations.

“We are reviewing that letter and we will respond to that letter,” she said.

The Coastal Conservation League has until August 29 to file an appeal. If they do, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said it could cost tax payers millions of dollars and delay the project even longer.

“We have tried in good faith to compromise with this special interest group. Their demands are more than any official regulatory agency has set forth and will cause unnecessary delays to re-engineer our entire project from what has been approved by every governmental agency. On top of that, their complete disregard for the will of the citizens of Horry County that have voted and have pushed for this project for their safety and quality of life.”

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