North Myrtle Beach City Council members adopted a resolution stating their intent to contribute $1.7 million annually for an as-yet-to-be-determined number of years toward the construction of I-73 within Horry County. Hospitality tax revenue would be used to meet the City’s contribution. The Resolution includes a variety of qualifications that must be met before any funding is forthcoming from the City. They include:
— Any funds contributed by the City shall not be used for SC Highway 22 or any other roadways, and shall only be used for the actual construction of I-73 within Horry County
— No portion of the City’s funding shall be used for, including but not limited to, rights-of-way, construction documents, engineering, legal services, environmental studies or reports of any kind.
— Horry County and cities within Horry County must also participate in funding the I-73 project
— Construction of I-73 must begin on or before December 31, 2024.
— Upon execution of the Request for Proposal for the I-73 project within South Carolina, the City will issue its formal commitment of funds for the project.
— The SC Department of Transportation shall keep all records, including expense reporting, and shall share those records and expense reporting with all contributing parties and the public.
The restrictions above require that cities, including Loris, Surfside Beach, and others also participate. That participation has not been publicly discussed and this connector road has limited, at best, upside for these towns.
A “NO” IN SURFSIDE BEACH
We spoke with Surfside Beach Councilman Michael Drake and he stated, “My vote would be no to any money going to I-73 because “I” stands for interstate transportation. That would be a federal funding matter, not state nor municipality. This myth that I-73 is an evacuation route when a hurricane hits Horry County, is not true. It will require Surfside Beach residents to drive north when evacuating. This road is nothing more than an additional tourist route to bring people off I-95 straight into Myrtle Beach.”
CONSTRUCTION TIMELINES DON’T WORK
Construction must begin before December 31, 2024. MyrtleBeachSC News has been told that the SCDOT has up to a ten year waiting period for beginning such projects. If true, the timeline for starting the Horry County portion of the project does not line up with NMB’s funding timeline.
Limited Use of Funds
The other restrictions include statements that funds can not be used for right of ways, legal services and environmental studies. All of the above will be required to get I-73 off the ground.
While the media continues its mantra of funding is just around the corner for I-73, the bar is currently set too high, as exampled by the ordinance passed in North Myrtle Beach.