Study says improve existing roads instead of building I-73

A new study commissioned by the Coastal Conservation League claims that improving existing highways to Myrtle Beach would be more cost efficient than building Interstate 73.

The study, prepared by Miley & Associates of Columbia, suggests upgrading Highways 38 and 501 would cost about $150 million, compared to more than $1.3 billion dollars to build a new interstate.

The study also claims upgrading the existing roads would create thousands of jobs and could be done as money becomes available.

"We would suggest, let's not spend money on an interstate that's not necessary. Let's look at upgrading our roads and making the roads we have more drivable, not only for tourists but for local traffic," said Nancy Cave, director of the organization's Georgetown office.

Cave said permits have not been issued for I-73, so there's still time for the state to say "no" to the interstate. She said improving existing roads would damage fewer acres of wetlands and could be done in a shorter amount of time than building the interstate.

"So we can produce jobs quicker, we can make upgrades quicker, we don't have to wait 20 years or more in regards to an interstate."

NewsChannel 15 tried to reach the chairman of the I-73 Corridor Association but did not get a call back.