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I 73 Dean
Dean Serves On I-73 Corridor Association

MBACC TAKES ON CONSERVATIONISTS

The I-95 Connector To Highway 22, needed to complete the S.C. I-73 project, will cost taxpayers $2.4 billion.  The tax funds are currently not available.

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MBACC’s VIDEO MAKES CLAIMS ABOUT I-73.  Locals Say Jobs Claims Unlikely. Congestion Issues Not Likely Solved By I-73

Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber C.E.O., put up a critical response to an S.C. environmental group’s federal permit challenge of I-73.   Dean took issue with a lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Coastal Conservation League. The suit states that the Army Corps of Engineers relied on an outdated environmental study.  The lawsuit also claims alternatives to I-73 were not considered as permits were issued in June 2017 to begin work on the road. If true, existing I-73 permits violate federal law.

The conservationists were not alone, however, in their concerns over I-73.  Minutes after MBACC posted their video, locals began to raise concerns about claims the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber is making concerning the road. The below was immediately posted right under the video on the MBACC Facebook page.

Said Erin Hardwick Pate, North Coast Office Director of the Coastal Conservation League,  “The Myrtle Beach Chamber is saying that “21- miles of I-73 in South Carolina have already been built and are in use today.” That’s completely false.  But we like where they’re going.

They’re actually talking about SC 22 and making upgrades to an existing road to make the road more efficient. We couldn’t agree more that upgrades are smarter than starting from scratch.

 But let’s not stop there. Upgrading existing roads –38 and 501 — into the Grand Strand Expressway saves taxpayers $2 billion over the Myrtle Beach interstate boondoggle.

 And the Grand Strand Expressway (GSX) will provide jobs and economic benefits to rural counties without displacing local businesses.

Besides, Myrtle Beach officials say they’ve been working on I-73 for years. Why then isn’t it built? There’s no federal funding for it. There’s no state funding for it.

 Who will pay for it? You. How? Higher taxes and tolls. Myrtle Beach interests just want more tourists and more money. And

Erin Hardwick Pate
Erin Hardwick Pate, Coastal Conservation League

they want South Carolinians to pay.

LOCALS SOUND OFF

Locals, across Myrtle Beach area social media, sounded off as well.

We reached out to Tom Stickler and Dewon Huggins for a follow up.

Said Stickler, a local I-73 watchdog, “The “Economic Impact of I-73 in South Carolina” report by Chmura is the source of virtually all claims that building it will create thousands of jobs. When the assumptions and calculations in that report are checked, it turns out that two major errors were made.

Chmura assumed that travel time saved would encourage increased tourism. Chmura’s first error was claiming I-73 would save from one to two hours travel time instead of the twenty minutes from the Federal Environmental Impact Study. This resulted in a 367% error calculating the increase in tourism due to travel time saved. 

The second error compounded the first by assuming that every visitor to Myrtle Beach would arrive via I-73. A $600,000 study paid for by SCDOT on whether travelers would use I-73 as a toll road (spoilers: they wouldn’t) found that less than 10% of drivers bound for Myrtle Beach would come anywhere near the proposed route of I-73. You can’t save time if you don’t drive on I-73. 

What all this boils down to is that claims of 22,000 permanent jobs that would be created by Interstate 73 are off by a factor of forty. Stated another way, I-73 would create less than 3% of the benefits claimed by its promoters.

A simplified map that shows that the proposed route of I-73 merely parallels a four-lane highway that can be upgraded for a fraction of the cost.”

LOCAL POLITICIANS DISAGREE

Responding to questions about the permit issues, many area elected incumbents and challengers hold to the MBACC narrative.

Dewon Huggins is currently a candidate for Horry County Council. “We saw it with International Drive, and now with I-73; environmentalists are more worried about stalling progress, rather than actually coming up with solutions. We need a federal law that will prevent environmentalists from stopping progress on roads that get permits and have no opposition until afterwards,” says Dewon Huggins.

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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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