MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce released results of a survey that indicated 79 percent of voters from across South Carolina support plans for Interstate 73.

Additionally, 82 percent of voters in the state’s 7th Congressional District (Myrtle Beach area) approve of the interstate.

The survey also asked voters from across the state why they support the interstate that would connect Highway 22 in Conway, S.C., to I-95 in Dillon, S.C., and I-74 in North Carolina. The top four reasons are the interstate’s ability to provide an evacuation route, create jobs, reduce traffic and create tax revenue.

  • Full results of the survey can be found here

“Through this recent survey, we have confirmed that South Carolinians see the value of building I-73 as a public safety and economic development necessity,” said Karen Riordan, the president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “With the support of residents across the state, now is the time to move forward with this much-anticipated project that will provide numerous benefits to the Grand Strand.”

Riordan said the chamber wanted fresher data that reflected the current feelings of voters. The most recent survey was conducted in 2019.

Riordan said the survey validates previous polling and allows the chamber to take part in more active conversations.

“This gives us a tool to go sit down and talk with our lawmakers as well as residents in those communities and share the findings and have really great forthright conversations about economic development, about job creation, about diversifying the economy, about making sure there’s enough revenue coming back into the state of South Carolina,” Riordan said.

Mayor of Mullins Robert Woodbury said I-73 would revitalize the city.

“It would be a total game changer,” Woodbury said. “Thousands, tens of thousands, millions of people that are traveling from up north heading toward Myrtle Beach that are stopping in our small town.”

S.C. Rep. Case Brittain, who serves as the chair of the National I-73/74/75 Corridor Association, said, “Voters in South Carolina understand that infrastructure like I-73 is vital to support the exponential growth of Horry County and surrounding areas. Studies have estimated that once completed in South Carolina, I-73 will help create 23,000 new jobs in our state and provide a critical hurricane evacuation route for the coast.”

The South Carolina Department of Transportation estimates the cost of building I-73 to be $2.3 billion. The Coastal Conservation League, which opposes I-73, said the money is better spent elsewhere with more immediate impacts.

“Compared to the benefits, it just doesn’t make sense to invest our billion dollars plus in this project when there are other things that are just more pressing,” said Rikki Parker, senior program director at the Coastal Conservation League. “What you really notice is people are struggling with day to day transportation challenges. When you go to an Horry County Council meeting you see people standing up and saying that there are changes needed on 90.”

The survey was conducted by Starboard Communications between July 23 and 27, 2021 with 405 voters from across the state sharing their opinions via phone. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.