PAMPLICO, S.C. -- A boon to some and a curse to others, the widening of Pamplico Highway to four lanes from Florence to Johnsonville is affecting many residents and businesses along its route.

Through Pamplico itself, both sides of the street are dug up as the road is widened and sidewalks along the street are being upgraded.

For the Raider Station just north of Pamplico at the intersection of Pamplico Highway and Big Swamp Road, the construction project has meant business.

"When it's not raining — when it rains, it’s not as busy," said Faye Joy, who works at the convenience store. "Selling food, selling lottery. In the afternoon, selling beer."

Joy said she is looking forward to the job being completed and said that more traffic past the store could mean more business for the store.

"This is my hometown, so any change in Pamplico would be good," she said.

Domino's Pizza, adjacent to the Raider Station, also benefits from the construction.

"More traffic, more business, more money," said assistant manager Chris Shifflet.

"Construction kind of clogs up trying to get to work, but mostly it means a lot more business," he said.

The store, he added, gets a lot of traffic from the construction crews working on the project.

"It really hasn't affected anything beyond people having to go around their elbows to get to their tails ," said Justin Hill, an assistant manager for the IGA on Pamplico Highway in Pamplico. "Other than that, it hasn't really affected business yet."

Hill said that when completed, the improved road could mean more business for the store, but right now the people who have to cope with the project just want it completed.

Completed and open for traffic is something one driver who has to cope with the construction on a daily basis wants as well.

"When it gets done, it'll be good, because it gives us two lanes to operate on as EMS," said James Powell, an EMT with Pamplico Rescue Squad. "That should help alleviate some of our issues. But right now it's terrible."

The squad's ambulances have to navigate the construction project all the way to either of Florence's two hospitals.

"Especially having to get from some of these patients' homes to the hospital, because you’re having to go through three or four different stop zones," Powell said. "That's going to add five minutes right there, at least."

Making progress

Work on Pamplico Highway is again off and running after a wet winter, and the lower portion of the project, from Hyman to U.S. 378, is scheduled to be completed by October, said Jamie Poston, assistant district construction engineer for District 5 (which includes Florence County).

"That's barring weather," Poston said. "They're having problems with weather now. That job's moving along as good as it could with the issues we've had. As far as the contractor's schedule he's still showing finishing on time."

The upper end of the project, from Hyman to Florence, is scheduled to be completed by June 2020, he said.

Both ends of the project have suffered from Pee Dee weather events.

"We've had the floods and some weather delays," Poston said. "I think all in all they're making some time now. I'm hoping we'll have a pretty good summer."

When completed, Pamplico Highway will be five-lanes from Florence to U.S. 378 with a three-lane section through Pamplico.

Digital Editor Matt Robertson is a veteran journalist who has fulfilled just about every role that a newspaper has and now serves as a key member of the Morning News' newsroom by maintaining and covering the occasional story and photo assignment.

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