‘Let’s seize this opportunity’: McMaster’s executive budget calls for $300 million investment into I-73

Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 12:19 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2023 at 11:35 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - Gov. Henry McMaster (R-S.C.) is urging the start of construction of the long-awaited Interstate 73 project.

In the new executive budget released Friday, the governor’s office recommended a $300 million investment to jumpstart the project, providing “an important boost to start work on a project that will serve as a catalyst for local and federal government partners to finalize their own investment plans.”

The proposed interstate would run through parts of the Pee Dee along I-95 as a new route to Myrtle Beach.

Friday’s update mirrors a proposal McMaster made in 2021 for $300 million in state funds for the project. He added that the state would come up with half of the total $1.6 billion cost of I-73, while local and federal governments would be responsible for the other half.

Leaders in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach have since passed resolutions to contribute millions of additional dollars toward the project.

In the Pee Dee, Marion County leaders also passed a resolution supporting the project last year but did not make a financial commitment. Dillon County voted against a plan for I-73 proposed by the South Carolina Department of Transportation in October 2021.

Fifteen million dollars in federal funds were also earmarked for I-73 in a Senate spending bill last year spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) after a request from Horry County Council.

The governor’s office said the completion of I-73 would create nearly 30,000 new jobs and provide a new, faster evacuation route in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster.

“I-73 will be a transformative component in South Carolina’s future economic prosperity; let’s seize this opportunity,” the office said.

The budget also calls for money to go towards colleges and universities in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee for projects, maintenance and tuition mitigation. Other things earmarked include an increase in the Disaster Relief and Resilience Reserve Fund, maintaining state-operated veteran nursing homes and money toward the America’s Graduates program, which helps school districts in Darlington, Georgetown and Marion counties.

The full budget can be read in its entirety below:

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