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SC Officials look at new ways to secure I-73 funding

A conversation last week between S.C. State Representative Alan Clemmons and Horry County Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland may lead to a new avenue for funding for the building of Interstate 73.

At a meeting held at Coastal Carolina University, Clemmons was discussing the six mile stretch of Interstate 73 from I-95 eastwards to US 501 south of Latta. (This will most likely be the first stretch of Interstate 73 constructed.) Clemmons was discussing that the $300 million project will be the only project that SCDOT is asking for $300 million of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grants out of the 2008 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The $300 million is the maximum that can be awarded to a project out of the $1.5 billion long-term road project TIGER fund. If approved, construction on this six mile stretch could begin soon.

Gilland asked Clemmons if a Horry County request for $30 million of TIGER Funds for upgrading SC 22 to Interstate grade would be in competition with SCDOT's request.

Clemmons said it would not.

The $30 million upgrade to SC 22 would be for the construction of shoulders that would bring the highway to Interstate standards. The upgrade would run from US 17 in North Myrtle Beach to a point between the SC 22 interchanges with US 501 and SC 319.

The list of projects that will receive TIGER funding will be announced in January 2010.

Story: New Lanes in I-73 Effort ---Myrtle Beach Sun News

Commentary:

Actually it appears that the $30 million Horry County request - if formally requested - would have some impact on SCDOT's request for $300 million for the I-95 to Latta six mile link. Each state is only allowed to be awarded a maximum of $300 million of the $1.5 billion in TIGER grants.

Comments

Anonymous said…
They should go ahead and build I-73 between I-95 and SC 22 first, then widen the shoulders of SC 22 from there to the end at US 17- Then sign it as a Interstate. The only thing is.. SC needs a interstate from I-95 to Myrtle Beach.. badly.
Bob Malme said…
Clemmons not coincidentally is the Chairman of the I-73/74 Association, so he has a reason to support the idea that both projects should get separate grants. From the article:

"Some background here: U.S. 17's intersection with S.C. 22 is the proposed starting point for I-73, which would then travel 20 miles or so to a point between U.S. 501 and U.S. 701, where the new roadway will then branch off to the northwest toward I-95. S.C. 22 was mostly built to federal interstate standards, lacking only 6 feet of shoulder on either side to qualify, and the cost of adding that shoulder space is about $30 million. Thus, Gilland said that the county should seek TIGER money for the upgrade, then rename that stretch of S.C. 22 as I-73, essentially creating an S.C. leg of it at very little cost.

At the summit, Clemmons supported Gilland's idea. Even with the upgrades, the county might not be able to officially name the highway I-73 until it connects to another interstate, but the effort was still worthwhile, he said. Federal officials were unlikely to look upon the county's request as competition with the $300 million the state is asking for."

The first sentence of the last paragraph is right in that the route couldn't be signed as a full interstate after the upgrade until it connected to another interstate, his opinion about the number of grants in the second sentence may not be so cut and dried. IMO it seems more likely that USDOT would see both projects as part of the construction of I-73, and, if so, SCDOT using TIGER grant funds to upgrade SC 22 would mean taking some funds away from the $300 million I-95 interchange/ Latta Connector project.

As an aside, it's interesting to note that the 'Association Summit' where these conversations supposedly took place has not been posted, either as an upcoming event, or news from after the event, on the I-73/74 Association website. Not even a blog article like last year's on the Greensboro summit has appeared there.
Anonymous said…
BUILD I-73!!!!!!!!!!

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