Group wants new interstate to be a toll road

| Thursday, December 18, 2003

The North Eastern Strategic Alliance, a group that promotes development in a 10-county area of South Carolina, has called for a proposed interstate highway to be built as a toll road, The Associated Press reported.

Interstate 73 would run from the Grand Strand, an area of South Carolina stretching 60 miles from Little River to Georgetown, all the way to Detroit, the news service reported. The alliance is promoting construction of a section that would run from the coastal area to Pee Dee, SC, which is 54 miles to the northwest. That would connect the tourist-driven Myrtle Beach region with Interstate 95, the main north-south East Coast highway, and millions of potential tourists.

While the federal government typically picks up 80 percent of the cost of such projects, the state would still have to pay millions out of the $2 billion cost. And that’s where the tolls would come in.

"As you can imagine, the 80-mile project carries a very large price tag," John Walsh, who heads work on I-73 for the South Carolina Department of Transportation, told the news service. "We are looking at all innovative financial options available to us. We aren't ruling in or out any options."

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