Interstate 73 in South Carolina
Authorized by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), Interstate 73 was established as a north-south high priority corridor from Charleston, South Carolina to Detroit, Michigan.
In 1993, the proposed route through South Carolina followed US 1 and US 52 to Florence, with 73 miles of new road in Marion and Horry Counties, and following US 17 from North Myrtle Beach to Charleston.
When I-73 crossed a border between two states, the federal law authorizing the road required that the two states agree that their sections meet. Originally, both Carolinas selected a route running south from Rockingham, North Carolina. However, North Carolina had more money to spend on roads, and on May 10, 1995, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved North Carolina's plan for I-73 to run eastward to the coast and enter South Carolina at North Myrtle Beach. Later that year, officials in both states agreed that I-73 would enter South Carolina south of Rockingham and that the other highway would be I-74. This raised the possibility of I-73 bypassing the Myrtle Beach area entirely, since I-74 would run to the Myrtle Beach area.
In May 1997, signs went up declaring the "Future Corridor" in Bennettsville, Marion, Conway and Charleston. At this point, the highway was expected to run 122 miles, 67 of which were already four lanes. The route included US 1, SC 9, SC 38 and US 501, with a planned Conway bypass connecting to US 701, along which the highway would connect with US 17 on the way to Charleston.
At one point South Carolina intended to have stop lights and driveways on I-73, but the National Highway System Designation Act, passed in 1995, required I-73 to be built to interstate standards. Residents of McClellanville on US 17 protested, and alternative routes would bypass Georgetown, leading to the possibility of Myrtle Beach also being bypassed. People in Georgetown, wanting the highway to serve their port, asked that I-73 end in their community, but federal law still said Charleston would be the terminus.
In 1998, Rep. Mark Sanford introduced an amendment to the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) that changed the southern terminus of I-73 to Georgetown. However, the section between Myrtle Beach and Georgetown would not be part of I-73; instead, it would be a "high-priority corridor" along US 701. That same year, the SCDOT Commission endorsed a plan that would link Interstate 73 from Georgetown through Conway, Marion, Bennettsville, and Wallace, to the North Carolina state line. In February, 2002, the South Carolina government changed the southern terminus from Georgetown to Briarcliffe Acres (the eastern terminus of SC 22).
In 2003, SCDOT went through a series of public meetings and came up with five routes:
- New construction parallel to SC 9.
- Convert SC 22 and create new construction parallel north of US 501 and SC 38.
- Convert SC 22, US 501 and SC 38.
- New construction parallel south of SC 22, US 501 and SC 38.
- Convert SC 22, US 501, SC 576, US 76/US 301, SC 327 and build new construction towards Bennettsville.
In late 2003, the state decided to go with option three and started environmental impact studies in 2004. In February, 2005, North and South Carolina made an agreement on the location of Interstate 73's state crossing, which will parallel east of SC 38. Part of the agreement was that SCDOT would develop and construct the short section into North Carolina, while NCDOT would construct a connector route to the Carolina Bays Parkway from North Carolina. By end of 2006, what originally was planned to be "option three" became "option two" after a series of public meetings and completion of the impact studies; this was confirmed in 2007 with the northern half of Interstate 73 (from Interstate 95 to the North Carolina state line).
On May 30, 2006, SCDOT announced its preferred routing of Interstate 73 between Myrtle Beach and Interstate 95. Interstate 73 will begin where SC 22 starts at US 17 near Briarcliffe Acres. It will then proceed northwest crossing the proposed routing of Interstate 74 (currently SC 31, the Carolina Bays Parkway). After passing Conway, Interstate 73 will leave SC 22 at a new interchange to be constructed two miles (3.2 km) west of US 701, and will then use a new highway to be built between SC 22 and SC 917 north of Cool Spring. I-73 will then use an upgraded SC 917 to cross the Little Pee Dee River. It will then proceed on a new freeway alignment between SC 917 and Interstate 95 that would have an interchange with US 76 west of Mullins and then would proceed northwest to an exit with US 501 near Latta, passing that city to the south before intersecting I-95 near SC 38.
In February 2008, the Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the section of Interstate 73 from Interstate 95 to SC 22 was signed. An October 22, 2008 ceremony marked the signing of the Record of Decision for the section from the North Carolina state line to Interstate 95.
On April 21, 2011, the S.C. DOT voted to spend $105 million on the interchange at I-95, which was expected to cost $150 million, including a six-mile section of I-73. Supporters called it "The Interchange of Hope", while opponents called it "The Interchange to Nowhere". On September 15, 2011, South Carolina road commissioners approved an $11.5 million plan to rebuild a bridge in Dillon County, near Latta.
In June 2012, Miley and Associates of Columbia, South Carolina, recommended improvements to SC 38 and US 501 to create the Grand Strand Expressway (GSX), a position long held by the Coastal Conservation League, which asked for the study. SC Representative Alan Clemmons, head of the National I-73 Corridor Association, said such a plan had been considered but was not likely. Nancy Cave of the Coastal Conservation League reiterated support for upgrading SC 38 and US 501, along with US 521 and SC 9, after results of a new study were presented at an August 1, 2012, meeting of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The study claimed that 90,000 people could leave the area 10 hours faster in an evacuation with I-73 and Southern Evacuation Lifeline (SELL) both in place.
The "I-73 Intermediate Traffic and Revenue Study" by C&M Associates, dated February 2016, was to be presented to state transportation officials March 24, 2016. It included upgrades to SC 22. RIDE III, if approved by voters, would also provide funding for the Southern Evacuation Lifeline.
|Horry||Briarcliffe Acres||US 17 / Kings Road – Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach||Existing interchanges of SC 22|
|North Myrtle Beach||SC 31 to SC 9 – Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Wilmington|
|||SC 90 – Little River, Conway|
|||SC 905 – Longs, Conway|
|||US 701 – Loris, Conway|
|||SC 22 west to US 501 – Aynor||Future interchanges (unfunded)|
|Marion||Mullins||US 76 – Marion, Mullins|
SC 41 Alt. – Marion, Lake View
|Dillon||Latta||US 501 – Latta, Dillon|
|||I-95 – Florence, Dillon, Fayetteville|
|Marlboro||||SC 381 – Blenheim, Clio|
|Bennettsville||US 15 / US 401 – Bennettsville, McColl|
|||SC 79 – Gibson|
|State line||I‑73 north – Rockingham||Future continuation into North Carolina|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- Scism, Jack (June 9, 1991). "New Interstates Likely Impossible Dream". News & Record. Greensboro, NC. p. E1. ISSN 0747-1858.
- Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike; Adderly, Kevin (June 18, 2012). "High Priority Corridors". National Highway System. Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- Miller, Jeff (July 4, 1993). "Promise of I-73 Threatens to Split Pee Dee Counties". The State. Columbia, SC. p. 1B1.
- Monk, John (April 11, 1995). "Despite S.C. Objections, N.C. Prepares I-73 Link". The State. Columbia, SC. p. B5.
- Pope, Charles (May 11, 1995). "I-73 Rolls Through Angry Thurmond's Roadblocks". The State. Columbia, SC. p. B1.
- Soraghan, Mike (June 17, 1995). "Carolinas Make a Deal on Routes of New Interstates". The State. Columbia, SC. p. B5.
- Soraghan, Mike (May 3, 1997). "Sign Points Out Highway Hopes". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. p. 1C.
- Soraghan, Mike (August 22, 1997). "I-73 Route Faces Fight". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. p. 1D.
- Bartelme, Tony (September 14, 1997). "Birth of an Interstate: How a savvy group of West Virginians dreamed up I-73". Post and Courier. Charleston, SC. p. A1.
- Wilson, Zane (March 31, 1998). "Sanford Measure Changes Interstate 73 Terminus". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. p. 1A.
- Prince, Adam (July 1, 2007). "The South Carolina I-73 Story". The Conway Bypass. Self-published. Retrieved August 26, 2012.[unreliable source]
- Staff. "I-73 Environmental Impact Study". South Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- "Conservationists Find I-73 Route Acceptable". The Post and Courier. Charleston, SC. May 31, 2006. p. B3. ISSN 1061-5105.
- Wilson, Zane (May 31, 2006). "A Route at Last". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. p. A1. OCLC 27119790.
- "Ceremony Marks Step Forward for Northern Route of I-73". The Morning News. Florence, SC. October 20, 2008.[page needed]
- "State, Myrtle Beach area leaders to ask for more I-73 funding". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. April 23, 2011. p. A.
- Anderson, Lorena (September 14, 2011). "Sierra Club e-mail angers Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. p. 16.
- Fretwell, Sammy (September 16, 2011). "I- 73 project gets boost from road commissioners". The State. Columbia, SC. p. 16.
- Anderson, Lorena (November 7, 2011). "Myrtle Beach, Horry County and Legislators Talk I-73, Cell Phones, Taxes and More at Joint Meeting". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. OCLC 27119790. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Kelley, Amanda (June 23, 2012). "Study Favors Updating Existing Roads Rather than Building Interstate 73". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. OCLC 27119790. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- Jones, Steve; Grooms, Vicki (August 1, 2012). "New Evacuation Study Has Chamber Backing, but Critics Say They Have Better Route". The Sun News. Myrtle Beach, SC. OCLC 27119790. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
- Hudson, Audrey (2016-03-23). "Study links SC 22, southern evacuation route, to build I-73". The Sun News. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
- Staff. "Maps: Southern Corridor Selected Alternative". I-73 Environmental Impact Study. South Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- Media related to Interstate 73 in South Carolina at Wikimedia Commons
- Map of Northern Corridor Selected Alternative
- Map of Southern Corridor Selected Alternative
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