Highway commissioner wants to study possibility of making I-73 a toll road

The Michigan to Myrtle Beach interstate has been talked about for 24 years, but the main roadblock continues to be funding. Now the idea of having tolls create revenue for the interstate is being discussed more seriously.

Mike Wooten is the highway commissioner for the 7th Congressional District. He wants approval to conduct a study to see if tolls would be a viable way to help pay for the interstate.

"We've already got the money set aside to do the study, it's just got to be approved," said Wooten.

Wooten also wants to see how much revenue the tolls could generate.

Myrtle Beach is an hour and a half away from the nearest interstate.

Mark Kruea, spokesman of Myrtle Beach, says I-73 would ease traffic, make it easier for people to evacuate in case of a hurricane, and attract business.

"We don't have an interstate currently, so you couldn't truck materials in or out of here," said Kruea.

I-73 would join Highway 22 to where it connects to I-95, costing roughly $1.2 billion.

"We'll probably have the permits to build it sometimes in the next year," said Wooten.

Tolls are not always a popular option, since drivers are left to pay the price.

"I think I'd be upset if I saw them (tolls) pop up and I had to pay for it," said Laurie Farro, resident of Conway.

Wooten says he'll find out if the study is approved at the next commissioners meeting on April 17th.

The South Carolina portion of the project, once underway, would take about four years to complete.