A contingent of 91 South Carolinians is on Capitol Hill today to lobby for federal support of an Interstate route from Michigan to Myrtle Beach. Interstates 73,73 and 75 would run through a six-state corridor. With the Grand Strand set to benefit from increased tourism, the top officials on the association pushing for the development are from the Myrtle Beach area. Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is the executive director and Horry Rep. Alan Clemmons is the Chairman. Former Bennettsville House member Doug Jennings is also an officer. All of them are in Washington today along with regional mayors, business leaders and Lt. Gov. Ken Ard.
With the State Department of Transportation recently funding construction of a major interchange at I-95 and the proposed I-73, the next step is money in the next federal highways appropriations bill. The National I-73/I-74/I-75 Corridor Association has set up meetings for two days with federal officials who are key to the funding process.
That includes Rick Wade, senior advisor and deputy chief of state for the Secretary of Commerce; Janet Kavinoky, executive director of Transportation & Infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; as well as Senator Lindsey Graham, Rep. Jim Clyburn, Rep. Tim Scott and Rep. Mick Mulvaney.
Nora Hembree, a spokesperson for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, says this is a critical year with the Highway Reauthorization Bill up for renewal this year in Congress: “It is the year to be included, so now more than ever we need to have that presence in Washington to let them know what we need.”
“We are the largest tourism destination in the United States without Interstate access,” says Hembree, ” and if we can have $14.9 million visitors without a major Interstate system, imagine what we could do with such a system.”