By Paul Gable
Several groups in Horry County are already making plans to oppose a Ride III referendum.
While specific reasons for opposition differ among the groups, they can all be gathered under the general umbrella of opposition to special interest projects.
One group opposes spending any money on the I-73 folly. Another opposes the SELL road on the south end of the county and a third opposes using Ride III money for the rerouting of U.S. 501 in Myrtle Beach.
There are significant road needs and considerable numbers of voters in the Carolina Forest, Socastee and western areas of the county that have nothing to do with the above projects.
And then there is the problem of finding sufficient funds for maintenance of existing roads.
There has been considerable coverage in the last year about South Carolina falling behind and going broke in its job of maintaining the fourth largest road network with the third lowest gas tax among the 50 states.
Proposals offered in Columbia range from raising the gas tax, raising the sales tax and/or dumping road maintenance on the counties as an unfunded mandate.
Horry County currently includes approximately one-fourth of the total mileage of the state’s road network in the county’s road maintenance obligations thanks to the county’s generous acceptance of roads into the county road plan over the past 20 or so years.
It was magnanimous on the county’s part to assume maintenance of roads, at the behest of developers, as new sub-divisions were completed. But, maintenance requirements for those roads are beginning to come due and will only snowball in the coming years putting Horry County into the same position the state now finds itself.
Will the county be forced to dump maintenance funding on adjacent property owners especially in those sub-divisions with all those lovely cul-de-sacs that serve only those adjacent property owners?
What justification is there to use county-wide taxes to maintain roads that provide no inner-connectivity and serve only adjacent property owners, much less those roads that serve the needs of special interests?
Ride III may be the last opportunity to extend connectivity among the many various neighborhoods within the county that need it before any more new taxes raised for roads will all have to be designated for road maintenance, not new construction.