Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says Interstate 73 will bring new jobs and opportunities to Horry County.
Gingrich met with Horry County Council Thursday morning to discuss the proposed interstate, which would run from Michigan to Myrtle Beach. He told council and other local leaders that he will do everything he can to help get I-73 built.
"I've committed to work with Congressman Rice and with your two senators to do all I can to be helpful in making sure that this project is seen as a national project that has real importance to lots and lots of people," he explained.
Gingrich said his strategy is to make infrastructure a bigger part of the political dialogue in Washington.
"The federal government has to find a way to be helpful and that's part of why I came here to talk about the potential with offshore natural gas, developing the royalty payments that could actually finance the kind of development that I-73 is."
As Gingrich puts it, the federal government would have to be financially helpful on a pretty substantial scale, even for the first leg of I-73 to be complete, from Highway 22 to Interstate 95 in Florence.
Horry County Council Chairman-Elect Mark Lazarus said that first leg of i-73 would do more than just improve the local economy.
"It's also a big safety issue for us to be able to get people out of here in case of a hurricane or a natural event," Lazarus explained.
Proponents like Gingrich and Lazarus say I-73 has to be put in place just to be economically competitive.
"I think we have to recognize if we want to create jobs, part of the key to it, is to have transportation systems that enable you to be competitive in the world market and that enable you to move goods and services around," Gingrich said.
Not everyone feels I-73 will be a good thing. Some environmental groups say it will destroy wetlands.