RIDE IV Committee begins narrowing down project list

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 6:21 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The RIDE IV Committee began the process of trimming down the list of proposed road projects Thursday evening.

The cost for all 34 projects submitted by the RIDE IV committee caps out at $3.3 billion dollars which is well over the $825 million expected to be generated over the seven-year collection period if the RIDE IV were to pass in 2024.

During last month’s meeting, Coast RTA requested funds be allocated from RIDE IV to increase their bus fleet and build a new maintenance and operation facility in Myrtle Beach.

It was unclear if the RIDE IV funding could go toward the Coast RTA improvements and further research is needed to be done by the county’s legal team.

Horry County Attorney Arrigo Carotti advised the committee against allocating the funding to Coast RTA because RIDE funding can only go towards road improvements, not transpiration.

The committee ultimately went with the counsel’s advice and removed the Coast RTA request from the RIDE IV proposal.

A presentation was also given on the Southern Evacuation Lifeline (SELL) route which would offer the southwest part of Horry County and alternate route to Highway 17 and help alleviate traffic from Highway 544.

The project is currently undergoing a $25 million environmental study, which is expected to wrap up this summer.

Several RIDE IV committee members were hesitant to allocate funding towards the SELL project, which is estimated to cost $450 million, due to the uncertain timeframe of construction and environmental contention against the road and bridge.

The committee also received an update from SCDOT on the extension of Highway 31 to the North Carolina border.

SCDOT says the main hold-up is NCDOT does not have the funding ready to complete their portion of the project and has other road projects at a higher priority.

SCDOT’s Leah Quattlebaum told the committee Horry County could start its portion of construction as soon as 2026.

RIDE IV committee members also proposed ending Horry County’s extension of SC-31 in a different location than originally designed and letting NCDOT connect when they have the funding.

Before the meeting adjourned 8 of the 34 submitted projects were removed from the final RIDE IV proposal list.

One of those projects pulled included $360 million for the Busbee Bypass. Instead, they’d allocate $60 million for future environmental studies, freeing up nearly $300 million for other projects.

The RIDE IV Committee has until May to complete their proposal before it goes to the Sales Tax Committee.

The list will eventually go before Horry County Council for final approval before residents officially get their opportunity to vote in the 2024 General Election.

The next RIDE IV Committee meeting will be on April 20 at 3:30 p.m.