Economists compare I-73 studies, find factual errors - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Coastal Conservation League speaks out of I-73 report

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GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) – Leaders of the Coastal Conservation League environmental group are speaking out over a report presented December 6th, calling their findings on I-73 and the Grand Strand Expressway into question.

"I was not invited," said CCL leader Nancy Cave. "Nor was I asked to comment on the group's findings."

Supporters of the interstate met at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology Thursday to present a side-by-side review of studies both for, and against I-73. They say the cases against the road aren't accurate.

"What we found today is the critics' reports don't hold water," said Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean. "It's got baseless assumptions and misleading assertions."

The review compared economic feasibility studies released by NESA in support of the interstate, as well as studies by the Coastal Conservation League, a group who has spoken out against I-73 in favor of a different project called the Grand Strand Expressway.

Advocates for the Coastal Conservation League were not at the presentation. WMBF News contacted Nancy Cave with the CCL, who said they were not asked to attend.

"We stand by our economic analysis of I-73 and the Grand Strand Expressway," Cave said. "This meeting was an attempt to avoid serious consideration of alternatives to the $1 billion interstate project."

But I-73 supporters say the league isn't backing up their claims, and the group called in to review the studies, Parsons Brickenhoff, calls many of the CCL's findings "unsubstantiated."

"They're a group that's never supported a new road to anywhere," said Representative Alan Clemmons.

But research by Parsons Brickenhoff also found inaccuracies in the NESA study as well. The group claims the interstate has a payback period of four years, but transportation economists say it will likely take much more time for I-73 to reach payback status.

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