By Paul Gable
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce propaganda blitz for I-73 funding failed to secure any money for the project in next fiscal year’s state budget.
It’s becoming obvious to all but the Chamber and its cronies that it would be easier to pass a camel through the eye of the needle than to get funding for I-73.
With all the excess money floating around in Columbia from federal Covid relief funds and excess state revenue, this was supposed to be the year the Chamber finally secured some funding to construct at least a portion of I-73.
The thought around the Chamber was, if it couldn’t get I-73 funding in the upcoming budget, it was never going to get it. It didn’t.
Even with all the excess money floating around the state budget process this year, it’s difficult to convince legislators that a new, 66-mile spur road from I-95 to Briarcliffe is a priority over all the existing roads and bridges in the state that have been ignored for so many years.
In Horry County alone, the needs for improvements on 90, 905, 501, 9, 319 and 544, to name a few, far outweigh the need for the I-73 spur road.
The Chamber counted on its preferred politicians, Tom Rice, Russell Fry and Henry McMaster to get the job done.
The governor in South Carolina has little say in the budget process. He can ask for things but has no juice to get them included.
Rice is in his tenth year in Washington with I-73 as his top priority. In the first nine, he couldn’t get any federal money for construction of the road. Why should this year be any different?
Fry, the Chamber’s second choice for the SC 7th Congressional District seat, has been a great cheerleader for I-73 during his six years in Columbia, but totally ineffective in securing any state funds for the project.
And the remainder of the local legislative delegation who have the Chamber’s backing to stay in office, Heather Crawford, Case Brittain, Tim McGinnis, Stephen Goldfinch and Luke Rankin have been equally unsuccessful.
If I-73 is ever going to be built, it is going to need virtually all of its funding to come from the state and federal budgets. Much as the Chamber would wish it so, this is not a local government project.
The actors the Chamber has put its money on to secure the funding, (see above), have demonstrated they cannot get the job done.
Despite all the false messaging that has come from the Chamber in the last several years, it can’t get the job done either.
The Chamber gets $45 million or so in taxpayer dollars every year to promote tourism. If I-73 is as important, as Chamber President Karen Riordan says, what better way to promote tourism than for the Chamber to dedicate a significant portion of those taxpayer dollars to its number one tourism development project – I-73?
Don’t wait for that to happen!