Local WBTW Channel 13 News has just reported that the Mayor and County Councilman Mark Lazarus are in the middle of a 16 day trip to China. While the T.V. station stated it had no records which indicated what the agenda would be for that trip, locals have reported to our news team that the purpose of the trip is to secure up to $2 Billion in funding for the construction of the I-73 connector that Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has lobbied to be directed through protected wetlands.
We recently reported on the Chinese investments in Myrtle Beach and future investments that are expected. The master downtown re-development plan, which is projected to be largely funded by Chinese money, however, is on hold until those foreign investors can be assured that funds are in place for the I-73 Expressway and that the S.C. State legislature is also on board.
With statewide “insider connections” maintained by the powerful Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, S.C. Congressional approval is practically assured once the international funds are in place.
The I-73 Expressway supported by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber would run through protected wetlands. Since the projected path would drive costs up towards $2.4 billion for construction, a toll road is now planned. Should the Chinese finance construction of the expressway, all future tolls collected on the road would go to those foreign investors or perhaps the government of China, itself. We polled 13,000 readers last month and over 86% would prefer not paying a toll . Over 90% who responded said they would prefer the road run along the existing and expanded Highway 9 route. That construction plan would cost taxpayers much less, with a cost of $800 million. This route would not require the use of toll roads.
As we reported this week, Mike Wooten, a close ally of Myrtle Beach Area President Brad Dean, supports the $2.4 billion route. Mike was appointed as State Highway commissioner just in the past short, few months.
Some state watchdog groups have concerns about such Chinese funded highway project investments. Even the representation of what the Chinese Flag stands for causes concerns for many middle class Americans. The red of the Chinese flag symbolizes the communist revolution, and it’s also the traditional color of the people. The large gold star represents communism, while the four smaller stars represent the social classes of the people.
Patrick Bauer, the Indiana House’s Democratic leader, says such highway funded deals are taxpayer rip-offs. “In five, maybe 10 years, all that money is gone, and the tolls keep rising and the money keeps flowing into the foreign coffers,” Bauer said.