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      I-73 causing problems for town of Latta

      Latta Town Council members say they need more than $800,000 to relocate water and sewer lines to make way for I-73, and they don't have the money.

      Latta's utilities director, Harold Snipes, says I-73 will locate near highways 301 and 501, and the water and sewer lines need to be moved before the state moves ahead with the interstate.

      "Being our lines, we're responsible to move them," said Snipes.

      But the cost is $810,000.

      "We can not afford it. The customers can not afford it," said Lutherine Williams, a Latta Town Council member.

      Williams says the State Department of Transportation (SCDOT) would pay for the lines to be moved, but only if Latta takes over and maintains all the town's roads.

      "It would bankrupt the town of Latta to try to maintain all the streets in Latta," Snipes said.

      So, the cost of moving the lines falls back on the town, and that's not making residents too happy.

      "Somebody's got to pay and I think it's going to be passed on to the citizens of Latta, which is unfortunate."

      Council says they could get a USDA loan, but they would have to go through a process and couldn't get the money until July. The deadline to relocate the lines is in March.

      Town officials say getting a loan would also mean they would have to raise water and sewer rates by 22 percent to pay the loan back.

      Williams said, "If we are forced to do this, it's gonna impose a great burden on the Town of Latta because our citizens at this time can not afford an increase in their water bill."

      Town leaders say their only option is to go to their state and federal lawmakers for help. They're asking residents to call their lawmakers and ask for help for the town.