HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Voters will have a chance to vote yes or no on the next phase of road development for Horry County Tuesday through the RIDE III referendum.
The referendum calls for a capital projects sales tax, which would increase taxes on retail, prepared food and beverages and accommodations by one percent for eight years starting next May to raise nearly $600 million for 20 specified road projects.
RIDE II was a similar penny sales tax, but it lasted seven years and included unprepared foods.
If approved, the tax would be used to pay for a list of 20 road projects, which are written in priority order:
1. U.S. Highway 501 Corridor improvements- SC Highway 31 to SC 544
2. Pave 25 miles county dirt roads
3. Carolina Forest Boulevard Widening
4. Palmetto Pointe Blvd. Ext. to SC Highway 544
5. SC Hwy. 9 East Widening (Loris)
6. Resurface 33.13 miles of city roads
7. US Hwy 701 N Widening (North Conway)
8. Fred Nash Blvd. connection to Harrelson Blvd. – Myrtle Beach
9. US Hwy. 17 Business Intersection Improvements – Garden City
10. Forestbrook Road Widening
11. Pave 25 miles county dirt roads
12. Resurface 33.87 miles county roads
13. US Hwy. 501 Realignment from Broadway Street to 7th Avenue North
14. US Hwy. 701 Widening – North to Loris
15. Conway Perimeter Road Phase II
16. Pave 25 miles county dirt roads
17. Resurface 33.87 miles county roads
18. Southern Evacuation Lifeline (SELL) – Environmental Studies and Right-of-Way
19. SC Hwy. 31 (Carolina Bays Parkway) Extension to SC/NC State line
20. Pave 25 miles county dirt roads
"The list for RIDE III is really county-wide," said Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokesperson. "You kind of see a little bit for everybody throughout the county. If you want to get the most voters to come, you probably should pick some projects that would be of interest to the most amount of voters."
Voters will also see details of the districts included in the road paving and resurfacing projects on the ballot question.
The RIDE III committee was given the task of creating the list of projects.
"To make it easier and more efficient for locals and tourists to get around the county," RIDE III Chairman Eddie Dyer said. "Not to the county, but around the county."
He said the 18 committee members came up with more than 300 projects then narrowed it down to 31.
"The cost of all of those projects, 31 projects, that were by everyone's calculations the most important to the county was $1.944 billion," Dyer said.
The budget was about $530 million at the time. Projections eventually increased it to more than $590 million.
Dyer said all of the projects were ran through a formula using specific factors, such as people living along the road or right-of-way needing to be purchased.
"It was technical transportation, engineering-type stuff instead of someone who had enough votes on the committee to get that one on the list," he said.
That formula helped prioritize the need for the projects then the members debated to come up with the list.
"The need for a lot of them is at a critical point right now," he said.
That list then went to a six-member sales tax commission, which was tasked with finalizing it.
People were able to voice their own thoughts at meetings around the county.
"Everything we did was out in the open, we invited the public in," Dyer said.
The list went to Horry County Council for the final vote, but it couldn't be changed at that point, only approved or denied. Council members decided to put it to the voters as a referendum in November.
A group in favor of RIDE III said it will create safer roads, it's the only opportunity to directly fix the county's road problems because the state doesn't have the necessary tax dollars and tourists would pay a large portion of the costs.
People who have posted on the WMBF News Facebook page have said they're voting no because they think the state or tourists should pay more, they aren't happy with the list of projects or they think projects from RIDE II need to be finished.
Dyer said if RIDE III is approved, right-of-way acquisition can start before the sales tax goes into place next May and then the projects can be ready to go when it does. He said the projects can start around the same time and be paid for as the money comes in.