Here we go again. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Alan Clemmons and all the I-73 proponents have reopened the barn door, grabbed another shade of lipstick and slathered it on the ol’ pig.
Bottom line, we can’t afford it, I-73 is still an environmental disaster, and more fiscally responsible alternatives exist. But we have to endure the demagoguery and falsehoods of how I-73 is the only answer to improved tourism, hurricane evacuations, and the only ones against it are outsiders. Well, to answer Mr. Clemmons’ accusations about “meddlesome outside groups attempting to control the flow of commerce in our area,” I live here, work here, depend on tourism, enjoy tourism, and love the Grand Strand and what it has to offer. I just can’t stand listening to so-called fiscal conservatives rant about no new taxes but push to create one in Myrtle Beach to fund tourism promotion by the chamber of commerce, and then rush to spend valuable tax dollars on a highway boondoggle of massive proportion while our state’s roads collectively disintegrate. It just doesn’t wash.
We then listen have to the Grand Strand is among the nation’s top 10 tourist destinations without an Interstate. Well, let’s look. Cape Cod, Santa Barbara, the Outer Banks, Atlantic City, even Hilton Head in our state has none. We seem to be doing as well on the tourism as those destinations listed. If we are to believe the chamber we continue to have a robust tourism market.
As for the dubious 29,000 jobs I-73 would create, really? Any jobs created would be temporary or low wage earning and would do little to infuse tax dollars into our state’s budget or improve the lives of those they touched. Many would have to be hired from out of state because many South Carolinians do not possess the educational background for many of the positions required for such a project. It hurts but it’s true. We need to be focusing on improving our lot in life by investing in our children and become a progressive leader in education, which will provide dividends in well paying professional jobs.
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Take a look to our neighbor to the north. North Carolina has a fiscally responsible gas tax that funds improvements to their highway system continually. We need to address our deficiencies prior to engaging in projects that usurp essential funds desperately needed to address our crumbling infrastructure.
A common sense approach says extend existing roads to meet major highways. S.C. 31 can be extended to N.C. 74 to the north and Georgetown to the south. S.C. 9 should be made a limited access highway from S.C. 905 to I-95, and the suggested U.S. 501/38 improvements implemented. I-73 or the SELL would never be needed if these improvements were made. As for funding, like it or not, South Carolina must raise the gas tax to meet the needs of us all.
Stop painting the pig lips and beating dead horses. I-73 is a bad idea at the present and may have always been one. I for one continually support the improvement of the Grand Strand but argue to do this in a fiscally, and environmentally sound way.
The writer lives in Little River.