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I 73

I 73 – The road no one is willing to pay for

Horry County Council voted 9-1 today to postpone canceling its contract with the S.C. Department of Transportation until December.

Chairman Gardner stated that he expected the City of Myrtle Beach and other municipalities to come to the table with a financial commitment within 90 days or the contract would be terminated.

Myrtle Beach City Spokesperson Mark Kruea said in a Tuesday news release that the city does not want to kill I-73 and is willing to contribute funds. However, the city has been unwilling to put anything in writing as of this publication. The token offer they suggested leaves county residents on the hook for two thirds of the interstate’s costs as things now stand legally.

Who pays?

Tom Rice told the press, “It just boggles my mind we’re not fighting tooth and nail to get this road.” However, Rice has yet to actually deliver any concrete federal funding as well. Vague promises have been made for up to $300 million or $400 million in a potential federal grant, however, these promises amount to hopeful maybes. The expected cost of the Interstate runs at $2.4 billion.

S.C. State Representative Allen Clemmons has long touted the need for the interstate, yet no funds have ever been pledged from the State of S.C.

As things stand, with the hospitality litigation as of today, Horry County can only collect hospitality fees, which would fund the road, from the un-incorporated areas of the county. In a press release yesterday, the City of Myrtle Beach stated that Horry County is still able to collect $22 million in hospitality fees from those unincorporated areas.

Let’s get county residents to pay!

“That amount of money, $22 million, plus contributions by the City of Myrtle Beach and other municipalities, would be more than enough to fund the contract with the SC Department of Transportation,” the city of Myrtle Beach said in a statement.

The annual contract to SCDOT is $25 million. As things stand today, 5 coastal property management family members (who make up the tourism lobby) would be the biggest winners if an I 73 were completed.

However, under the scenario offered by the City of Myrtle Beach yesterday, 330,000 Horry County residents would pay for as much as 70% of the costs to build the interstate to the Horry County line.

Horry County Council Chairman Gardner told the press in the video above that Marion County and Dillion County might get federal funding to pay for their portion of the road. Why that option is not available to Horry County is a mystery.

Horry County Chairman Johnny Gardner made a promise to the media today that Horry County residents would not fund the bulk of the costs for this road.

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About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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