MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Conversation in Washington, D.C. is giving local officials hope that federal funding for I-73 could be on the horizon.
"We're hopeful that this will be the beginning of some meaningful conversation,” said CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Karen Riordan.
Riordan said President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer met to discuss a possible infrastructure plan, which Riordan said will hopefully take a more, sturdy form down the line. She said there could be the potential for I-73 to be on the list for a national infrastructure package.
"When they look at major routes and things that need to be repaired and improved upon, the I-73 project is one of the potential projects that could fall into a national infrastructure plan,” she said.
Right now, according to Riordan, it’s too soon to tell exactly if I-73 will be part of a potential plan.
Riordan said the state is also waiting to hear back on whether the United States Department of Transportation chose an applicant for the infra-grant, which the South Carolina Department of Transportation submitted a request to receive.
The grant is still under review, and Riordan said the timeline for the INFRA grant is entirely up to the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Right now we are expecting a decision in Fall 2019, but that could certainly change,” Riordan said.
"It potentially could yield $348 million of federal funding,” said Riordan, “We always like to talk about I-73 long-term. We believe that it’s really important for job creation. Studies have been done that show this could generate as much as 29,000 jobs.”
Staff from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the MBACC Board of Directors are set to take a spring trip to Washington D.C. next week. Riordan said she plans to advocate for I-73 while speaking with elected officials in Washington.
"We find that a lot of industry and businesses that would like to come here aren't giving us the consideration that we would like because we don't have I-73,” she said.
Riordan said the chamber also plans to discuss economic development, workforce and cultural exchange programs.