Leaders from across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee are finishing a two-day trip to Washington, D.C. to lobby for federal funding for the proposed Interstate 73 that would stretch from Michigan to Myrtle Beach. Accompanying the contingent on the trip is Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard, who says the long-term project would be a boon to the economy of the region, as well as the entire state.
Ard, who is from the Pee Dee town of Pamplico, says he knows economic times are tough, but efforts to grow the area include making strategic investments that will stimulate the economy. He said I-73 should be recognized as one of those wise investments that the government has an obligation to make. According to an economic impact study conducted earlier by Coastal Carolina University Research Economist Dr. Donald Schunk, the I-73 project can be expected to generate 7,700 jobs during its construction phase.
State funding has recently been approved for the proposed I-95-I-73 interchange in Dillon County, which is being hailed as the “Interchange of Hope.” Ard says this investment should be a clear signal to federal officials that South Carolina is serious about its role in making sure that I-73 becomes a reality.
The latest census figures show that Horry County’s population has grown by 37 percent in the last 10 years. Ard says that growing population calls for infrastructure improvements, including the enhancement of the highway systems in the region. Ard says the Grand Strand area is the biggest tourist destination in the nation without interstate access, and he wants to see that distinction become a thing of the past. Ard says he is trying to help convince the federal government that investing in I-73 would be using tax dollars wisely.
When completed, I-73 would cross six states — Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and the Carolinas. The highway would run 80 miles in South Carolina through Marlboro, Dillon, Marion and Horry counties.