Nine years and counting. That’s how long the citizens of Horry County have been waiting for the construction of International Drive.
A few weeks ago, we were within a matter of hours from finally receiving the permits from the Army Corp of Engineers so the project could begin when the Coastal Conservation league and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made yet another objection. The CCL and the Environmental Law Project have recently written letters to the editor in defense of their positions and taking U.S. Rep. Tom Rice to task for his support of the project.
Both groups contend that they have not asked that the project be stopped, yet by paying the $100 and filing the objection, it in effect stops the project. This was done to delay the widening of 707 and the extension of Hwy 31.
In 2010 the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and Horry County were concerned about collisions between black bears and motorists. The 2013 revised agreement doesn’t include the same statement but does indicate that SCDOT right-of-way fence, which is similar to the fence along interstate highways, will be installed.
It has been stated that Horry County paid DNR $122,210 for a right-of-way easement when in fact; the amount was $33,330 which was the appraised value of the land.
The design and road proposal and environmental permit application always included land disturbance/wetland impacts of the road bed/footprint for a four-lane road because projects with wetland impacts have to be master-planned. The agencies don’t want a permit for two-lanes and then receive another request a few years later because the road needs to be widened.
These groups want us to believe they have our safety and their concern for the environment as the reason they file frivolous objections. They come to the table with “unclean hands.” On Feb. 24, a legislative review panel approved a plan for dredging Charleston Harbor. The CCL and the Southern Environmental Law Center, all signed off on the deal, so the dredging could move forward without threat of a lawsuit from those groups to the tune of $5 million dollars.
Sen. Harvey Peeler, called the $5 million “ransom” That concerns me. Do we want to go down that road to spend taxpayer dollars for ransom? He called it a “terrible, terrible horrible precedent.” These groups have non-profit status and supposedly rely on donations. Perhaps they’re waiting for Horry County to “make a donation” in the amount of $3 million, the cost of the bear tunnels and additional fencing to ensure the project will move forward with no more objections.
Well, I for one will do everything in my power to see that doesn’t happen!
It’s time to stop these groups and let them and the politicians know that we have been silent long enough and we want this project for our safety lies to begin now.
The writer lives in the Glenmoor Community on S.C. 90.