Survey shows majority of South Carolinians support I-73, but county leaders say support isn’t the issue

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 6:59 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A new survey sent out from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce shows a majority of South Carolinians support the construction of Interstate 73.

The proposed interstate would connect Horry County with Interstate 95.

Based on responses from across the state, 73% of people said they supported building the interstate. When given more information about proposed benefits like hurricane evacuation routes and more jobs, support jumped to 79%.

For those already living in the Seventh Congressional District, which includes the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, the survey showed 82% of voters were in favor of I-73.

As the South Carolina Senate heads back to Columbia for a session in October, MBACC president Karen Riordan said they can now use the new data to show lawmakers why they should fund the interstate.

“We want I-73 to be on the top of their list when they’re thinking about granting money from the American Rescue plan,” Riordan said.

But support isn’t the roadblock. Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught said funding and fixing existing roads are in the way of what’s next for I-73.

“It’s two different problems,” he said. “While I-73 is something we definitely want and definitely need, like the survey said, we also have people here who have to be taken care of. We can’t do one without doing the other as far as I’m concerned. I won’t vote for I-73 until we’ve promised that we’ll do something for Highway 90 people too.”

On Tuesday, the Horry County Council Administration Committee will look at a dual resolution, aimed at setting aside money for both the county’s portion of the interstate, as well as money for local roads. Vaught said $4.2 million from hospitality fees will get set aside every year for 30 years for the interstate.

“Why do you want to bring more tourists here, make it easier for tourists to get in here, if they can’t get around once they get here? In addition to all of the residents not being able to get around. If we don’t look after our residents first, then the tourism is going to go,” Vaught said.

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