SCDOT approves study into whether I-73 should be a toll road

The South Carolina Department of Transportation Commissioners agreed unanimously Thursday afternoon to move ahead with a study to see if Interstate 73 should be a toll road to help pay for the interstate.

The tolls would be collected where the new interstate would intersect with I-95, so supporters say it would be mostly tourists who pay the tolls.

I-73 has been in the works for the past 24 years. It would run from Michigan to Myrtle Beach.

Cindy Osborn is a native of Myrtle Beach. She says the roads are inadequate for the area.

"I had to sit in traffic just to get her (daughter) out to the tech for two hours worth of classes, and it took forever. It should have been done 20 years ago," said Osborn.

Brad Dean with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says I-73 has been a top priority.

"We've had over $100 million secured for I-73 up to this date, both in Federal Highway Bill, federal Tiger Grants, and also state funding," said Dean.

However, much more money is needed to build the interstate.

"Still the question remains though how do you pay for I-73 and whether or not tolls are a part of that. We don't know, but the study will tell us," said Dean.

One criteria of the approved study will show how much the tolls should be.

"Presumably this would be tolls paid for people coming down I-95 who would connect with I -73," said Dean.

Osborn says she's all for tolls, if that's what it takes.

"People want to come here and visit, I think they need to help pay for the roads. They're putting all the weight on the roads and they're putting all the extra traffic on the roads."

Dean wanted to be sure to point out, the tolls would only be on I-73 and would not affect traffic on I-95.

The DOT commissioners also decided Thursday to request a $30 million Tiger Grant from the federal government to help pay for the interstate.