Dillon residents unimpressed with new Interstate

DILLON, SC (WMBF) – Dillon does not stand to reap the same benefits its neighboring counties will with the construction if Interstate 73, as expressed by city residents.

Approval for funding of the Interstate 73/95 interchange in Dillon County was approved Friday. It will include access roads into Marlboro and Marion Counties, but not Dillon.

"I absolutely think Dillon is taking one for the team here," Dillon Mayor Todd Davis said. He acknowledged Interstate 73 will benefit the entire Pee Dee area, but said Dillon is sacrificing more for less benefit.

"It's going to uproot some businesses, which I think is a negative. I think as far as the city of Dillon is concerned, a lot of people will bypass us," he explained.

Florist Diana Moody agrees with the Mayor. "I think it's going to hurt us more than it's going to help us," she said.

The interstate would traverse 80 miles in four South Carolina counties: Marlboro, Dillon, Marion and Horry. It would span across six states - Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and the Carolinas.

"If it can help our areas, our Pee Dee area to have more employment for people, that part is good," Rhonda Altman said. Owner of Beauty & The Beads in Dillon, she is the sole breadwinner for her family, as her husband has been unemployed for almost a year.

She, however, does not want to lose customers.

"I depend on locals as well as people that travel through," Altman added.

An economic impact study conducted at Coastal Carolina University finds construction of I-73 will generate a total of  7,718 new jobs. This includes new construction jobs, as well as jobs generated throughout the Myrtle Beach area and Pee Dee region due to economic ripple effects.

The study also concludes that over a full construction phase of five years, a total of 38,600 employment positions would be supported and nearly $1.4 billion in household income would be generated.

"What we would like to see done, or like to see proposed, is some type of frontage road that will connect with the on and off ramp," County Administrator Clay Young explained. He said this would afford Dillon the opportunity for economic development.

"It would also impact the state by having another development site if we could develop that frontage road somewhere between Latta and Dillon."

The U.S. Congress is set to take up the Highway Reauthorization Bill this year and, according to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, the bill could invest as much as $500 billion in transportation infrastructure over a six-year period.

The North Eastern Strategic Alliance, the South Carolina General Assembly, the South Carolina Congressional Delegation and with the Obama Administration through the TIGER grant all assisted in securing funding for the interchange in Dillon County.

Officials say this investment should help I-73/74/75 to gain inclusion into the upcoming Highway Reauthorization Bill to receive additional funding.

Officials overseeing the interstate project are now working to secure federal funding through the highway reauthorization bill.

To find out more information about the National I-73/74/75 Corridor Association, including the upcoming 2011 Spring Road Rally to Washington, D.C., visit www.i73.com.

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