Horry County councilmember claims $300 million pledge by McMaster for I-73 won’t happen

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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County Councilman Harold Worley claimed Tuesday that South Carolina House leadership has told him the $300 million for I-73 that was pledged by Gov. Henry McMaster isn’t going to happen.

Worley made the comments at Tuesday night’s council meeting. He was talking about growth and impact fees in Horry County when he brought up I-73. Just last month, McMaster recommended state lawmakers use $300 million to build the interstate, but nothing is in motion yet.

“One asked me tonight, said ‘Councilman Worley, do you think the state is going to cough up $300 million for I-73?'” Worley stated. “My answer was a resounding no.”

Previously, councilmembers have said they want to see commitment from the state before putting up any local money towards the project.

“So you send us $300 million to Horry County — which that’s not going to happen,” Worley said. “We all know that. We all know it. The leadership in the House has already said it’s not going to happen. The Governor can beg all he wants to. That’s all he can do is beg. But the fact remains it is not going to happen.”

At last month’s I-73 announcement, several state and local representatives were there, including Congressman Tom Rice.

“I’m taking the governor’s word that the $300 million for I-73 will come through,” Rice told News13 Wednesday. “We’re counting on that. I’m working on here at the federal level to try to make sure we have a good package to apply for federal grants and certainly the $300 million from the state is a big part of that.”

Horry County Representative William Bailey said he hasn’t heard the claims Worley made but said it’s going to be very difficult to start a new road when the state has made other commitments like I-95 and I-26.

“A commitment like that requires a vote by the whole General Assembly and that’s not an easy process when you start talking about lumps of money, especially with the difficult times we’re having right now in the unpredictability of our budget,” Bailey said.

“It’s just going to be a very hard push, especially when you throw it out there and try to build around it,” Bailey added.

Bailey said he hopes there would be conversations held to make sure everyone would be on the same page before suggestions are made.

“Everyone would know which direction and what is being promised and I don’t think, I don’t think those types of conversations were heard to set this up and give it a fair chance,” he said.

Bailey said he couldn’t vote for I-73 because of other issues in the county, but if there’s a plan that addresses those issues, he would look at it.

“It’s kind of nonsensical to provide a route so more people can get here, when the people who are here feel like they don’t have the proper infrastructure,” Bailey said last month after McMaster’s announcement.

“I’m hoping we can pull together and get this thing done,” Rice said. “It’s so critical for our constituents.”

During the announcement, McMaster talked about hurricane Florence and said the interstate would bring a much-needed evacuation route.

“There never has been a better example of why we need to build I-73,” he said last month.

When reached by News13, Worley said he’s out of town and not available for comment. McMaster’s office has not immediately returned a request for comment.

South Carolina’s part of I-73 would run from the Rockingham/Hamlet area, into Marlboro County, and then Dillon County, before intersecting with Interstate 95, and then hitting Highway 22 in the Myrtle Beach/Conway area. 

The price tag for that section is $1.3 billion, but the South Carolina Department of Transportation estimates the cost of the entire interstate is $2.3 billion.

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