Tag: I-73

The I-73 Contradiction

Gov. Nikki Haley was in Horry County Monday pumping the benefits of the I-73 project and her re-election campaign.

Speaking to the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors, Haley said I-73 is hugely important for this area.

It’s so important she said someone else would have to pay for it because the state wasn’t about to.

And that is the crux of the I-73 contradiction.

Gingrich, Myrtle Beach, Oil and Interstates

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was in Myrtle Beach earlier this week to push an initiative for oil and gas drilling off the coast of South Carolina.

Gingrich spoke at a forum of oil and gas industry representatives who want Congress to allow exploratory drilling and development of possible offshore oil and gas resources.

One of the issues at the forefront of talks about oil and gas drilling off the U.S. coast is the number of high paying jobs such economic activity will bring to the area.

If those types of jobs would become available, it would certainly help the Horry County area which consistently ranks dead last in average worker income among the 335 largest counties in the nation.

The irony here is that wage levels in Horry County have been consistently depressed because of the tourism industry. It’s just over 50 years ago that Horry County business leaders met with then Sen. Strom Thurmond to stop plans for extending I-20 to the coast. They worried an interstate would bring industrial development that would rob them of low wage workers in the hotels, restaurants and tobacco fields in the county.

Carolina Southern Railroad and Horry County

Carolina Southern Railroad and Horry County officials appear to remain far apart on any plan to get the railroad back in operation.

Service on portions of the rail line was voluntarily suspended by Carolina Southern Railroad officials when new federal regulations, especially on bridges, went into effect in the summer of 2011. Those service interruptions directly affect Horry County.

Since then, the railroad has been searching for funding with which to make the repairs. It joined with Horry County in two unsuccessful applications for discretionary railroad infrastructure TIGER grants from the federal government.

Tourism Development Fee Tales

The Tourism Development Fee, otherwise known as the reverse Robin Hood tourism ad sales tax, is again in the news as Myrtle Beach city and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce officials continue to attempt to justify it.

They speak of capital improvement projects and reduced property tax for owner occupied homes in the city as well as possibilities of extending the tourism base for local business.

What we don’t hear about is how the motel and restaurant owners were able to decrease their advertising budgets in excess of 90 percent, allowing them to put more money in their pockets, while the maids, waitresses and bus boys they pay minimum wage to pay more tax.

Horry County Special Interest Groups and I-73

A superb article published in the Myrtle Beach Sun News 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.

Proposal for S.C. Transportation Reform

A bill introduced into the S.C. Senate last week provides hope for transportation reform in the state by dissolving the State Infrastructure Bank and folding its duties into the S.C. Department of Transportation.

The bi-partisan transportation reform bill, S-209, is co-sponsored by Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) and Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw). It proposes to restructure the state’s transportation agencies, better coordinate the highway construction process and eliminate irresponsible over-borrowing.

Peeler said the bill was needed to make sure road funding was a merit based and need based process.

I-73 Myths and Reality

A few days ago we were treated to reports of a new I-73 study by Parsons Brinckerhoff commissioned by the Grand Strand Business Alliance.

Local media reported that the new study found two previous studies commissioned by the Coastal Conservation League, advocating an upgraded expressway link to I-95, not credible. It further reported two previous studies completed by the Northeast Strategic Alliance and Dr. Don Schunk of CCU, advocating for construction of I-73, were credible.

Not really. The Parsons Brinckerhoff study questioned the cost of the CCL study as being too low, said a four-lane upgraded expressway would not be comparable in capacity to a six-lane interstate and performed some literary gymnastics with benefit-cost analyses and economic development benefits for the differing studies.