Recently an economic analysis of I-73 was released that begs the question why are we wasting taxpayer’s money on a new interstate. We can create new jobs boost tourism and save money without an interstate: revitalize the 38/501 corridor, that proponents have dubbed the Grand Strand Expressway or GSX.
The proposed southern segment of Interstate-73 is a $1.2billion road that would stretch from I-95 to SC-22, transporting tourists to the Myrtle Beach area. It has no permits, no funding, and the economic analysis shows a negative benefit/cost ratio.
A negative benefit/cost ratio and its purported job creation would come 20 years in the future. More importantly, taxpayers would be paying a hefty price to build an interstate that is not really needed.
There is a reason this area isn’t yet served by an interstate. Despite its environmental problems, edge cities that are not ports, and have only seasonal traffic do not have interstates. Cities in coastal areas, “edge cities,” are typically
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served by spurs to interstates or expressways. Interstates connect inbound cities, with year-round traffic demand and they don’t become dead ends.
In contrast, the study says we can upgrade SC 38/US 501 -- an existing 4-lane highway already used by tourists at 1/10th the cost of the proposed interstate and upgrading 38/501 would create jobs sooner -- that sounds like a fiscally responsible solution to me.
GSX has a positive benefit/cost ratio, protects and promotes local businesses and improves access to Myrtle Beach at 1/10th the cost, so why are we even talking about an interstate.
Politicians aren’t looking at the economics. Isn’t it interesting that the very representatives who call themselves fiscal conservatives are the ones proposing a multi-billion dollar project that is far too expensive for the gain, and not in the best interest of taxpayers. Revitalizing GSX is a far more cost effective use of state transportation resources that will bring jobs at a fraction of the cost of a new interstate. Let’s say no to I-73 once and for all.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.