Chamber of Commerce Puts All Out Media Blitz for I 73
The City of North Myrtle Beach voted yesterday to recommend the construction of I 73. The city of Myrtle Beach had already cast such a vote earlier this year.
With a Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce highly organized and well funded effort to encourage support for the interstate, odds are that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allow a permit soon. The political power of Brad Dean and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has been well documented by other recent actions of this group in the General Assembly’s overriding Governor Haley’s veto of a tourist tax just 60 days ago.
According to the Corps’ and DHEC’s joint public notice , the construction of I-73 would fill 324 acres of water, impacting 17 streams, 139 wetlands and five ponds. Wetlands, estuaries, and streams are the kidneys of our oceans. Once destroyed, these can never be put back.
86% of our readers told us last winter they preferred widening Highway 9 which already runs from I 95 to North Myrtle Beach. This new upgraded road would then be called I 73. It would cost less than half the Chamber’s proposed route. It would destroy no wetlands. However, the large sums of ad dollars and the political maneuverings of this Chamber of Commerce ensured that all construction routes, other than the one they preferred, were eliminated.
Mike Wooten, Highway Commissioner and strong ally of Brad Dean, says the road will be permitted. He also says they have local funding for what he says will cost $1.3 Billion. Some environmentalist groups have the cost higher at $2.4 billion. Wooten does not say who locally will finance the upfront costs, however. Suspicions have long been that the Chinese nationals of which Mayor John Rhodes and County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus have courted will pay for and own the road. The I 73 route that runs from I 95 to Highway 22 will be a toll road.
Estimates by local experts that include Tom Stickler, however, show that the expected revenues from tolls will never cover the costs of servicing the debt in building the road.
In short, I 73 may be a part of what advocates call a “planned failure”. A road designed to fail financially so that local taxpayers are forced to pick up the financial burden on an already built road.
The construction of this route is a likely unstoppable event now. Myrtle Beach residents will all have to live with the consequences good or bad that come with this power play move by the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. Brad Dean, C.E.O. of the Myrtle Beach Chamber, sits on the I 73 Association Board.
If you wish to have your own say in whether this road is built or not, letters to the below must be in by Monday, August 8th.
STEPHEN A. BRUMAGIN, PROJECT MANAGER
REF: P/N SAC-2008-01333 REVISED
US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CHARLESTON DISTRICT, COLUMBIA FIELD OFFICE
1835 ASSEMBLY STREET, SUITE 865 B-1
COLUMBIA, SC 29201