MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - The widening of the main road to Myrtle Beach has been completed just in time for the busy summer tourist season,

Officials say new northbound lanes on U.S. 501 are opening on Friday about six months ahead of schedule.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports the project should ease congestion in the area where the highway passes the Tanger Outlet malls just outside of town. Before the widening traffic exiting the state Highway 31 expressway got tangled with traffic trying to turn into the outlets.

Transportation Department officials had hoped most of the work would be completed before the Memorial Day start of the tourist season.

Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand are the heart of the state's $18 billion tourism economy.

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Information from: The Sun News, http://www.thesunnews.com/