Leaders from the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation gathered in Myrtle Beach Feb. 8 to announce approval of the Record of Decision and the request for public-private partnership proposals for the Interstate 73 South Project.
The Record of Decision (ROD) completes the environmental review process for the I-73 South project. The ROD, approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), locks in the selected alternative and the preliminary design of the new interstate. FHWA approval of the ROD also allows SCDOT to move forward and expend federal transportation dollars to acquire the necessary rights of way for I-73.
“The Record of Decision represents a major milestone for the I-73 South project,” said Thomas Barrett, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “This important step was reached in a little over three years, far ahead of the national average of closer to six years for projects similar to I-73.”
South Carolina Secretary of Transportation H.B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. said the SCDOT will be putting out a request for proposals for a public/private partnership to facilitate financing of the I-73 project.
“As emphasized by Gov. Sanford, the public-private partnership method of innovative financing may be the method to deliver the entire I-73 project in South Carolina,” Limehouse said. “I am interested to see the ideas from the private sector to further this important transportation project.”
SCDOT also will need to secure the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies before construction could begin.
The Southern I-73 project is from I-95 in Dillon County through Marion County to SC 22 (Veterans Highway) in Horry County.
The Northern I-73 project extends from I-95 in Dillon County to U.S. 74 in Richmond County, N.C., a distance of approximately 35 mi. (56.3 km). A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was approved on July 29, 2007, and work on the final EIS is under way. It is anticipated to be completed by late Spring 2008 with the Record of Decision to come early this summer.
For more information, visit www.i73insc.com.