HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Gov. Henry McMaster is expected to announce $300 million for construction of I-73 in Horry County, according to State Senator Stephen Goldfinch (R-Murrells Inlet).
McMaster is expected to make the announcement Monday, according to an invite sent out to officials and obtained by News13. South Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall will join McMaster for the announcement.
“He has not specifically told me what the number is going to be,” Goldfinch said. “My understanding from others is that it’s going to be no less than what he dedicated for I-26.”
Goldfinch said the funds for I-26 were in the range of $300 million.
“The hurdles have been overcome except for the money hurdle, so the fact that we’re about to get a commitment of $300 million is huge,” Goldfinch said.
Goldfinch said he was pushing for $500 million, but “$300 million is a lot closer to $500 million than zero.”
Goldfinch said I-73 is heavily supported by up to 90% of people.
Representative Case Brittain (R-Horry County) said there have been meetings with municipalities to get local government involved in showing the state they’re serious about funding for I-73 and that they can’t do it without help from the state.
“We’re looking forward to the governor coming down, hopefully with a recommendation for I-73 as well,” Brittain said.
Councilman Johnny Vaught said it’s nice to see the state stepping up.
“The county can’t afford it and the county and municipalities together can’t afford it, so it’s got to be an effort between the state and the feds and the municipalities and the county to do it,” he said. “I heard the same number of $300 million or plus, but I haven’t seen it and when I hear it come out of his mouth, then I’ll believe it.”
Brittain said I-73 would boost tourism and the economy, but said the primary reason is for an evacuation route.
“We do not want to go back to having to deal with getting out of Horry County like we did when Hurricane Florence came through,” Brittain said. “We were probably a couple hundred sandbags away from being an island and being stuck out here.”
Goldfinch said he hopes construction could begin in 24 months.
“I’m hopeful for 24 months but I’m also realistic and stuff goes wrong, so we’ll see,” he said.
Vaught said himself and state leaders have been invited to the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce Monday for the announcement.
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.
To date, a little more than $116.6 million has been committed to I-73, $96.7 million of that is federal money.