By Paul Gable
Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus was absolutely correct recently when he said the proposed I-73 should not be included with RIDE III projects.
Lazarus was responding to comments made by local state Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-107) who is trying to keep I-73 in the discussion about what road projects will be paid for with local sales tax.
Clemmons continues to push the myth that I-73 will be a huge job creator for the local area, a myth based on a “faulty” study commissioned by the Northeast Strategic Alliance (NESA) several years ago. The myth was debunked by several other independent studies.
Other I-73 myths include projections of thousands of new visitors coming to Myrtle Beach because the trip will be so much quicker and the real estate market will boom because of I-73.
But, Lazarus hit the nail on the head when he said local sales tax should be used to pay for roads that provide better interconnectivity east of the waterway to the benefit of permanent residents of Horry County.
Carolina Forest, Forestbrook and Burgess all have traffic problems now and those areas are expected to add more residents in the coming years increasing already difficult traffic problems. And moving traffic north and south east of the waterway is still the most difficult traffic problem faced in the high tourist months.
None of these problems will be solved by I-73.
Permanent residents of Horry County have road problems that need to be addressed by RIDE III and solutions to those problems need to be the most important projects addressed by any RIDE III plan.
We only have to look at one RIDE II project to see how faulty political logic promoted by special interests can cause a huge waste of money.
The interchange project at the backgate of the former Air Force Base was a top priority project because the new west side airport terminal at Myrtle Beach International Airport was going to bring thousands of new visitors to the area who would need better access roads so they could get to the new Hard Rock Theme Park and other area attractions.
Yes, that was the political discussion eight years ago. I remember it well.
The west side terminal was never built. The Hard Rock Theme Park went from grand opening to final closure in six months. The interchange project has gone grossly over budget because of soil problems that should have been known.
If I-73 is to be considered, let the feds find a way to pay for it, although it didn’t find a place in the list of priority projects for the Federal Highway Trust Fund.
When considering RIDE III projects, consider only those that will benefit locals 365 days a year. After all, they are the ones who will bear the brunt of the local option sales tax to pay for the projects.
Carolina Forest, the Forestbrook area, and the Burgess Community.