Horry County Special Interest Groups and I-73

Fiscally Responsible Alternative to I-73

By Paul Gable

A superb article published on myrtlebeachonline today explains the push by Horry County special interest groups for I-73 construction today and the difficulties that road faces in ever being completed.

Lobbying, political donations and other special interest groups’ tactics used to try and kick start the I-73 project are covered very well.

Anyone considering themselves a true conservative dedicated to low taxes, reduced spending, the elimination of earmarks and smaller government should read it to consider how local politicians elected to the statehouse and Congress are carrying out their campaign pledges.

A little background on why the Myrtle Beach area has no interstate to the beach today may be helpful to get the full picture.

In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, when the interstate highway system was being planned and built, mostly with Department of Defense funds, the business interests of Horry County did not want an interstate highway all the way to the beach.

The belief at the time was that manufacturing and other businesses would locate along the interstate. The thinking went that many workers in the local area, who worked the tobacco fields, cleaning hotel rooms and in restaurant kitchens, would leave for higher paying jobs in these new businesses. The result would be local business owners either having no workers or having to pay significantly increased wages.

Horry County business special interests of the time succeeded in having Interstate 20 terminate in Florence. Now, succeeding generations of many of those same business leaders have determined they need an interstate to the beach. Because of the shortsightedness of 50 years ago, the cost for I-73 is now unaffordable and the environmental damage significantly increased because of the lack of feasible routes.

The Horry County business community is used to getting what it wants, manipulating politicians along the way as necessary. There have been overtures to county council members to extend hospitality tax in the county to help fund the construction of I-73 in other counties.

That means every county resident who buys from a restaurant, convenience store, delicatessen and other like business would be taxed to provide funding for I-73.

Statements at the end of the story with respect to building I-73 as a toll road with foreign investors are most interesting.

Imagine U.S. tourists driving along a toll road to the beach that ultimately enriches the Chinese Communist government. How would that help the balance of payments deficit and national security?

The Sun News article: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/2013/02/02/3305493/special-interest-push-for-south.html


One Comment

  1. My critique of the NESA Economic Impact of I-73 study done by Chmura was printed in the 23 September 2011 edition of the Myrtle Beach Sun News. That article showed how faulty assumptions about travel time to be saved if I-73 were to be built, compounded by applying that inflated time saving to all annual tourist traffic — not just traffic that would use I-73 – led to at least a 400% overestimation of jobs and revenue from I-73.

    The I-73 boosters have never shown that my critique is in error, yet they continue to repeat the claims that building I-73 “would create 29,000 jobs, boost tourism and industry, and provide a fast hurricane-evacuation route that would ‘save 40,000-plus lives.’”

    None of the above claims is anywhere near being the truth. I hesitate to call fine folks like Brad Dean and Alan Clemmons liars, but the only other explanation is that they are willfully ignorant of the facts of the matter.

    What will it take to make these I-73 boosters cease their campaign to build this unneeded six-lane boondoggle? Good luck on suckering foreign investors, and beware of putting the taxpayers on the hook for the bonds to finance I-73 as a toll road, like was done for I-185 around Greenville, South Carolina.