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I-73 study plan for SC.

Agencies plan scope of I-73 study

By Zane Wilson

The Sun News

Some 40 state and federal agency representatives will gather Thursday in Columbia to plot out how the Interstate 73 study should be done and what should be included in it.

The interagency session, called a scoping meeting, is required by federal law under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The intent is to make sure the concerns of all the involved agencies are addressed before the study begins.

"This is the first major milestone in terms of the NEPA process," said Patrick Tyndall, environmental program manager at the S.C. division of the Federal Highway Administration.

Two public meetings on how the study should be conducted will be held in September, but definite dates and locations have not been set.

The dates and locations should be set in the next two weeks and will be posted on the project Web site, Tyndall said.

The site is www.i73insc.com.

The highway agency expects to hear information such as locations of colonies of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers, for example.

"We know there are populations of them in the study area," Tyndall said.

The wide range of agencies involved includes the Coast Guard because it may have to grant permits for bridges over navigable waters, he said.

Ocean and Coastal Resource Management will be represented and is interested in treatment of wetland areas in Horry County, said bureau manager Chris Brooks.

He also wants the road study to act on lessons learned in the construction of Veterans Highway and avoid digging up wetland soil to use for fill dirt.

Brooks said the interagency process conducted by highway officials is useful.

"They've done a good job trying to listen," he said.

Federal and state highway officials are shooting to finish the study, called an Environmental Impact Statement, in three years.

The study will recommend a route for the 60 miles of I-73 in South Carolina. Originally designated in 1991 as a Detroit to Charleston highway, it is now designated as Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to Myrtle Beach.

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I think that the route needs to follow this path:


The blue route is the interstate path I would like to see

It must pass through Williamsburg County.

The red route is the existing interstate quality road.

The Pee Dee is the most economically depessed areas of the state, so It need to pass through as many countys as possible. My route has it go through all of the counties in thestudy area except for Dillon County.

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  • 3 months later...

Random Thoughts and Opinions before i go to bed.

I-73 should really parallel US 52 from the NC/SC line towards I-26 around North Charleston since I-74 is likely of going to Myrtle Beach anyways. NC wants I-20 to go to Wilmington but SCDOT will probably never do it. Why not convert parts of US 501/US 76 into a 3di Interstate towards Myrtle Beach instead of using I-73. Naming the 3di interstate I-195 would be appropiate. Carolina Bays Parkway is slated to terminate at US 17 between the SC 544 interchange and SC 707, why not continue it along the Intracoastal waterway, form a bypass around Georgetown and connect back with US 17 before Frances Marion Nat. park? NC wants the Carolina Bays Parkway to end at Grissettown at US 17 (3.5 miles roughly from the NC/SC line) but again, SC may not find it such a high priority until SC 57 via Hickman Road in NC becomes overcrowded

I just started using urbanplanet btw, sounds like a very cool site. Glad to be part of the community now.

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Thank you!

NCDOT is flip flopping and indecesive about I-74;

Whether it goes along US 74 to Wilmington or somewhere along the Whiteville bypass, it turns southward towards US 17 (and connects the Carolina Bays Pwy), nothign is certain yet.

It is certain that I-74 will be going to I-95 with now plans to go south of US 74 and meet back up east of NC 41. Towards Whiteville, we dont know the exact plans yet.

Id like to see I-74 go towards North Myrtle Beach, I-20 go from Florence to Wilmington and I-73 goes to North Charleston. Of course this is my idea and will likely never happend. certainly I-73 will n ever happen but maybe I-20 will. Its Atlanta and Columbias advantage to have a direct connection to the Wilmington Seaport.

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I think Myrtle is a done destination. In the spring I was asked by a local business group to write a proposal for a tracking system for influential individuals in the proposed corridors. They want to identify linkages between individuals in the area who can lobby for or against I-73 routes. They had contacts inside DOT and talked of hosting the applications at DOT. Now usually I'd never mention this but the group wasted a lot of my time and never told me I'd not won the contract.

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I-20 should not have ended in Florence.  If it would have been extended to Myrtle Beach, you would not have the congestion of beach traffic in Florence, and there would be a direct route, rather than having to navigate countless backroads, and pick a way.


The reason it was ended in Florence was for monetary reasons. It benefitted the big money people in Florence for the tourists to spend more time on the road here. Therefore, adding revenues for additional food, retail and lodging.

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  • 2 months later...

Posted on Mon, Feb. 07, 2005

ON FRIDAY | Officials from North and South Carolina will get together to discuss the I-73 connection. But after many failed attempts, the question remains ...

Can they compromise?

By Zane Wilson

The Sun News

COLUMBIA - An Interstate 73 summit with North Carolina on Friday in Myrtle Beach is crucial to resolving when and if North Carolina will build its three-mile remaining piece of the highway, state leaders say.

But North Carolina also wants to talk about other road projects that South Carolina is not interested in, such as extending Interstate 20 from Florence to Wilmington, N.C., and linking Interstate 74 from its Brunswick County, N.C., end to the Carolina Bays Parkway in Horry County.

"This is an I-73 summit," said Betty Mabry, director of the S.C. Department of Transportation. Congress has not designated an extension of I-20 or an I-74 spur into South Carolina, she said.

Lyndo Tippett, North Carolina's secretary of transportation and Mabry's counterpart, said he agrees I-73 is important to both states.

"Equally important to North Carolina are I-74 and the extension of I-20 to North Carolina," he said in a written statement to The Sun News.

He and his board look forward to discussing I-73 as well as the others Friday "so that we can accomplish our goal to build all three corridors," the statement said.

I-73, planned to run from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to Myrtle Beach, would be the first Horry County interstate highway link. The Myrtle Beach area is the largest tourism destination in the country without an interstate highway connection.

The two Carolinas have continued to discuss, but not resolve, the road connection since I-73 was designated by Congress in 1991.

S.C. leaders say North Carolina has resisted finishing the link because it does not want to encourage its residents to travel to South Carolina's beaches.

That also is why North Carolina insisted on building I-74, some say.

North Carolina has built parts of I-73 and I-74, which would split off I-73 near Rockingham, N.C., and turn east to the coast. South Carolina has just gotten the required preliminary studies under way for its I-73 route.

For the time being, South Carolina has set aside the studies of the western half of the roughly 80-mile road until an accord is reached with North Carolina.

Mabry said the two states need to do a joint environmental study on the section where the two roads would come together, to meet federal requirements.

"There has got to be a joint environmental document tying the road to the state line," she said, because if the two states do their studies separately, the pieces might not connect.

South Carolina also wants assurances about the connecting link, "to make sure it's going to be built," Mabry said.

Tippett's office did not comment on that question, but North Carolina does have the section of road designated as a study area.

State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, is president of the S.C. I-73 Association and said the discussion should focus on the I-73 connection with North Carolina.

"We want to know when they intend to build it, if they intend to build it and what other projects are on their wish list," he said.

Other projects are welcome to the discussion, Clemmons said, but "I-20 causes me a great deal of heartburn ...

"If I-20 were to be extended, I'd much rather see it extended into the Horry County area," rather than to Wilmington, he said.

In addition to an I-20 extension not being designated by Congress, it would be costly for South Carolina and would be much further in the future than construction of I-73, Clemmons said.

An extension of I-74 southward into northern Horry County is a more likely possibility for agreement, Clemmons said.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the summit, along with the I-73 association and North Eastern Strategic Alliance.

The discussions will be Friday at Embassy Suites at Kingston Plantation, but there will be a reception Thursday night so the participants can get to know one another.

"We're going to come with open ears and open minds," said chamber President Brad Dean. "We see there's going to have to be some trade-offs."

The finished I-73 will benefit both states, and that should help sway the discussion with North Carolina, Dean said.

I-73 status

Studies are under way, and preliminary suggested corridors for the stretch of Interstate 73 between Myrtle Beach and Interstate 95 will be presented at public meetings in early March.

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Carolinas reach interstate deal

After 14 years, leaders put connection plan in motion

By Zane Wilson

The Sun News

The Carolinas struck a deal Friday on the connection points of Interstates 73 and 74, meaning the staffs of the states' transportation agencies will start plans for the projects immediately.

"Today has been a tremendous success," said Betty Mabry, director of the S.C. Department of Transportation. "This is a wonderful day because this means both of us can go forward."

I-73, planned to run from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to Myrtle Beach, would be the first Horry County interstate highway link. The Myrtle Beach area is the largest tourism destination in the country without an interstate highway connection.

The agreement was announced in Myrtle Beach at a Carolinas summit aimed at reaching an accord on the connection that has eluded planners since 1991, when Congress designated I-73.

The agreement shifts the approximate route of I-73 slightly eastward from its original entry point into South Carolina near U.S. 1 in Wallace. Now it will enter South Carolina in the area of S.C. 38.

North Carolina will build a 3.7-mile link to the state line from the existing I-74 south of Rockingham, N.C.

In return, South Carolina will build about a 5-mile link from S.C. 31, the Carolina Bays Parkway, to the N.C. line to connect with the planned route of I-74.

The S.C. portion of I-73 is expected to cost $2 billion. So far, the only funding approved is $3 million for the environmental studies. DOT officials say that if they get the funds, the road can be finished in 2014.

The pact must be formalized by the transportation boards of both states, but leaders of those boards were at the summit and said they expect quick approval.

Most of the accord was worked out at an informal gathering Thursday night after a reception, when the top leadership of the two states' highway agencies began to talk, group members said.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean was in the group as members began talking.

One of the North Carolinians said N.C. residents want an extension of Interstate 20 northeast toward Wilmington, N.C.

Dean said the South Carolinians said that project is not workable at this time, and the discussion moved quickly to how to connect I-73.

The North Carolinians said they wanted Carolina Bays Parkway extended north to connect with I-74, and the S.C. leaders said that was possible.

The deal was clinched during breakfast Friday morning by Mabry and S.C. DOT Commission Chairman Tee Hooper, joined by N.C. Secretary of Transportation Lyndo Tippett and N.C. Transportation Board Chairman Doug Galyon.

Tippett said the project benefits both states and the Carolinas were able to settle the issue "simply because there's been a heightened interest in it."

Officials from both states say the road will not only help bring more tourists, it also will fuel economic growth.

Galyon said he is pleased with the new connection point at S.C. 38 because "there are so many environmental problems" with the U.S. 1 route.

Mabry said the S.C. 38 area offers a straighter path and fewer hills. The I-74 leg it will connect with was not contemplated when the original U.S. 1 route was designated.

The agreement also will give Horry County two interstate highway connections.

The required environmental studies for I-73 are under way, but work on the section west of I-95 was on hold until there was an agreement on the connection point.

Mabry said she thinks the $3 million for I-73 route studies the agency has on hand will be enough to complete the additional portions, including the I-74 link.

What's next

Preliminary proposed corridors for the portion of Interstate 73 from Myrtle Beach to Interstate 95 will be presented to the public. Meetings will be March 8 at Dillon High School and March 10 at Myrtle Beach High School; tentative time for the meetings is 4-7 p.m.

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Preliminary I-73 corridor paths unveiled

Seven variations shown to public

By Zane Wilson

The Sun News

'I'm happy to see that a lot of these alignments are along existing roads.'

Susan Libes | Coastal Carolina University professor

CONWAY - Preliminary possible corridors for Interstate 73 were unveiled Thursday showing it taking seven suggested paths between Interstate 95 and S.C. 22.

But planners stress these corridors, to be shown at public meetings March 8 in Dillon and March 10 in Myrtle Beach, still are preliminary.

"This is just the first cut," said Mitchell Metts, I-73 project manager for the S.C. Department of Transportation. "We're not showing you this saying, 'This is it.'"

Those at the meeting, a group of invited participants including government officials and conservation organization representatives, were mostly satisfied with the preliminary alignments.

"It's exciting," said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. "The terminus on [s.C.] 22 is great news."

By ending at S.C. 22, also known as the Conway Bypass and Veterans Highway, the I-73 project would save some time and money.

Skip Johnson, a planner with the consulting firm, said that in earlier meetings, "we heard, 'You guys would be fools not to use the Conway Bypass'; we listened."

S.C. 22 is "a very easy fit into the interstate system" by widening its shoulders, Johnson said.

The two main alignments with smaller branches are within about a 20-mile swath between I-95 and the Conway Bypass. The longest is 45 miles, the shortest 42, Johnson said.

The refined alternative routes may vary within that 20-mile-wide path but probably will not strike out farther north or south, Johnson said.

The two major alignments track between Marion and Mullins. Marion County representatives said they are pleased with all the suggested layouts.

"Any of them will help us," said Charles Bethea of Marion County Progress, an economic-development organization.

"I'm happy to see that a lot of these alignments are along existing roads," said Susan Libes, a professor at Coastal Carolina University who monitors water quality in the Waccamaw River watershed.

Avoiding breaking new ground for the road minimizes environmental effects, she and other representatives of environmental groups said.

Parts of the routes follow U.S. 501, S.C. 917 and S.C. 319.

State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, president of the S.C. I-73 Association, said the suggested routes appear to meet the transportation and economic-development goals of the road.

A major hurdle, because of environmental and cultural difficulties, is crossing the Little Pee Dee River.

One proposal is to build a new crossing slightly north of U.S. 501 to avoid the historical district at Galivants Ferry. The other would cross at S.C. 917, about 10 miles north.

Christy Holliday Douglas, a member of the Holliday family of Galivants Ferry, said the new U.S. 501 crossing would still disturb the historical area and the environment and that it makes more sense to build I-73 at the S.C. 917 crossing.

U.S. 501 already has four lanes and is heavily traveled, but the area farther north could use the road and it would avoid the historical district, she said.

Metts said the S.C. 917 crossing also has environmental problems because it would have to go through a state heritage preserve, but those are among the issues that must be balanced as plans for the road are refined.

Johnson said the next task is to do detailed aerial photography of the suggested routes.

Planners also will take into account concerns or information brought forward at the public meetings.

Metts said anyone with interest in the road should come to the meetings.

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I need to make one correction this map. SC 22 (Conway Bypass) is not up to interstate standards because of the narrow right shoulders. The shoulder length is well below 10 feet, the minimum requirement needed to be interstate.

Interstate standards are availible by clicking here:


The 2nd photo here at this link shows a photo of SC 22:


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  • 2 years later...

The article does have a lot of good point. Aside from connecting Myrtle Beach to 95, how much traffic is this thing actually going to generate? I'd like to see what that additional 3 million figure came from, and where these people are coming from- especially if Ohio and Michigan aren't going to build their sections.

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I'm guessing those projections might be a bit optimistic. Still, the Roanoke-to-Myrtle Beach section (all that seems likely to be built) could generate a fair amount of use. N of Roanoke, is a different story, but the chances of that being built are close to zero.

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I wonder why SC doesnt extend I-20 East to Myrtle at first place?

That would've made too much sense. Like you said, all they had to do is finish "connecting the dots" years ago between major towns and cities (like they're supposed to do with interstates), and build I-20 from Florence to Myrtle Beach. Instead, we and the visitors to the Grand Strand have had to stew in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours on end for decades due to inaction. How does that make us look to our visiitors? Like a bunch of yee-haws who can't figure out how to build better roads--ugh. What an embarassment, and one that continues today, and will for years to come. Why? Because even if I-73 does get built, it will end before Conway at Hwy. 22, forcing those shooting for Myrtle Beach to continue using 501 like always. Brilliant.

I-73 beyond I-95 is a fleecing of America, IMO, and most states north of us are completely ambivalent to outright hostile about their portions of the interstate. I don't blame them.

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  • 1 year later...

Here's an article from The State that talks about how the I-73 project threatens the natural wetlands of the Pee Dee which are home to an amazing array of wildlife. I actually had no idea how biologically rich this area is. All told, more than 400 different varieties of land and aquatic animals may be found along the I-73 corridor, the research shows. Black bears, bobcats, mink, otters, marsh rabbits, white-tailed deer, bald eagles, barred owls, and red-shouldered hawks are some of them. The Carolina wren, the state bird, also lives there. There are even some species found in this part of the state that aren't found anywhere else in South Carolina.

The EPA has twice recommended denying a permit to fill 272 acres of wetlands, saying the road will hurt “aquatic resources of national importance.” The EPA doesn’t routinely take such stances in South Carolina. If the EPA’s concerns aren’t satisfied, its opposition could force the road to be redesigned or even stopped. Road boosters say they understand the significance of the Pee Dee’s natural heritage and have supported measures to reduce the impact of I-73 on the landscape.

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