- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - Grand Strand officials are proposing a 40-mile, one-way traffic loop to control crowds and traffic during the Memorial Day weekend that coincides with the Atlantic Beach Bikefest.

Three people were killed and seven wounded in shootings last Memorial Day weekend in communities outside Atlantic Beach and local media outlets report that officials have been working on a safety plan.

Under the proposal, traffic would head south on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach and then west to the Carolina Bays Parkway. Drivers would have to then drive north to North Myrtle Beach before again heading south on U.S. 17.

The loop, which takes about an hour to drive during normal traffic, would be in effect between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. each night.

Tens of thousands of people flock to the area each Memorial Day for the traditional opening of the summer tourist season, the Bikefest and other events.

North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley has problems with the plan.

“Their traffic plan cannot simply shift their traffic issues to North Myrtle Beach,” she told The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, adding that while steps need to be taken to counter Memorial Day weekend violence, she doesn’t want the plan to negatively impact her city.

She suggests drivers using the loop should be directed south toward Myrtle Beach before reaching her city.

“We fully realize this is going to be a pain in the butt for some residents,” Myrtle Beach City Manager Tom Leath said. But he added “the point is we are trying to get the word out early so they can be prepared.”

Leath said the loop will be enforced for a relatively short time during the weekend.

The administrator of Surfside Beach, south of Myrtle Beach, worries the plan will just result in an influx of people to his community because people are not going to drive the full circle.

“There are going to be a lot of people who are going to elect not to make that loop and come to Surfside Beach,” he said.

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