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Horry County Road Funding and the Primaries

Horry County Road Funding and the Primaries

By Dennis Mitchell

Funding for road repairs, upgrades and new construction will be an important issue in the political races over the next three months until the June 2024 primaries are held. The issue will hold over after the primaries as Horry County voters will be asked in a referendum question on the general election ballot whether the one-cent local option sales tax should be extended, possibly for up to 25 years, to fund new road projects.

It was only two years ago that the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce was making a ‘no holds barred’ political effort to get funding for its notorious Interstate 73 project. The governor, lieutenant governor, several of our local legislators and the Mark Lazarus attempt at recapturing the county chairman position were enlisted for the effort. The effort failed.

Now that I-73 has been at least temporarily shelved, concentration on needed upgrades and new construction on local roads can be the center of attention. And local road improvements are exactly where the attention needs to be focused. It is interesting that two of the high profile races in this primary season will see local roads, their funding and improvements, as major issues.

Horry County Council member Danny Hardee has three challengers for his seat, two in the Republican primary and a Democratic challenger in November. Hardee’s District 9 includes major portions of Highways 90 and 905, two roads being significantly impacted by new construction. Hardee has worked on improvement plans and funding for those two roads, but road improvements take a lot longer to complete than new sub-divisions which require them. Nevertheless, it’s hard to see how he can be challenged on that issue.

The other race involves incumbent Sen. Luke Rankin and his failure to obtain much funding for Horry County roads during his 32-year tenure in the state Senate. Horry County significantly trails areas like Charleston, Columbia and Greenville in state funded road construction. That condition has to change and challenger Autry Benton is ready to “raise sand” in Columbia to make that change.

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