Carolina residents may soon have the need to reach out to South Carolina condemnation lawyers soon. Those of us living in South Carolina may not know that the heavily-debated roadway project began in 1982 when Congress passed an appropriation bill that required designating and constructing a highway that would connect I-95 South to US 17 near Myrtle Beach. Some may know this plan as the “Florence to Myrtle Beach highway” project. By the early 1990’s, the highway had been incorporated into further legislation with a route from Detroit to Charleston, SC. Fast forward seven years, I-73 became part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, and the road was shortened from Charleston to Georgetown.
Early in 1998, the chairman for the I-73 committee stated that “the SCDOT Commission has endorsed a corridor from the state line to near Georgetown, following US-1 to Wallace, SC-9 to Bennettsville, SC-38 and US-501 near Marion, US-501 to Conway and US-701 to near Georgetown. I-73 will provide a lifeline to economic stability to the area.” As time went on, more and more route changes from within South Carolina kept occurring, with SCDOT and state legislature constantly butting heads.
As plans and ideas continued to change, 2004 saw awareness of the Interstate project rise significantly. Two rallies were held to help with this: one in Washington DC and another in Myrtle Beach SC. The purpose of both rallies was to spread the word that the Interstate would increase job growth and tourism in addition to providing another hurricane evacuation route. Regarding Myrtle Beach specifically, some find it difficult to travel to the area because once they exit I-95, there are more than 90 miles remaining to get to Myrtle, all on small roadways. Having an Interstate closer to that area could really boost tourism and the ease of travel.
Later in 2004, state legislators filed their notices of intent with the federal government. The two notices stated that studies would be performed on two proposed routes: one from I-95 North to the NC state line and the second from I-95 South to Myrtle Beach. At their many meetings regarding all the issues, some were more focused on the conversion of existing highways to I-73 standards rather than building a new highway.
In 2005, an agreement between the states was reached: NC would build a 3.7-mile link to the state line from the existing I-74 south of Rockingham, and SC would build a 5-mile extension of the existing SC-31 that will link up with I-74 in NC. Following this agreement, SCDOT began organizing public meetings in areas north of I-95 in NC. At those meetings, most seemed to be in support of aligning the project with an existing roadway: SC-38.
However, tension surrounding the project was increasing in the South. Horry County residents and leaders were wanting a more southern routing of I-73, and those living in Aynor and Cool Springs felt that the highway would run too close to their town. With the new objections coming to the forefront, more studies would be required of the State, which would take more time. This would ultimately delay the progress yet again. Not only was time going to be an issue now, but environmental impacts of the southern routing of I-73 were coming into play. The Coastal Conservation League said that they will support the highway, as long as it is not built south of US-501.
Due to all the new concerns, SCDOT ended up denying requests to study a route south of US-501. Instead, a state legislator proposed a “bubble route” which would be built south of US-501 but more within Marion County. This and other minor adjustments made it so the residents of Aynor and Cool Springs were no longer concerned with plans to move forward. Finally in 2006, the state was able to announce their preferred plan for I-73 and announced that the route would affect approximately 81 homes, 7 businesses, 1,700 farmland acres and 384 wetland acres.
Not everyone was happy, though. Dillon County residents and officials saw downsides to the I-73 project. Residents were upset about the effect on homes and land, and officials were angry because the highway does not seem to serve the town of Dillon at all. They would like the highway to run closer to the town. This problem in Dillon and in a broader sense, any changes made to the preferred route that was presented, would cause more delays to the project and possible delays with federal funding.
It has been a long road for the planners on this project, which is scheduled to begin work in 2016. Today, there are two alternatives for the highway which have yet to be completely decided on; both will affect the locations of some homes and businesses. Those who have received notice that their land will be taken for the Interstate project may be wondering what their rights are.
Those who are being forced to move from their property due to I-73 are legally entitled to just compensation for their loss. The State cannot make you accept an amount that is a “low-ball” offer; therefore, before you accept any offer for your land, speak with an experienced condemnation lawyer in South Carolina. South Carolina condemnation lawyers will be able to educate you on your rights and how you can get the money you deserve for your land. If you are having eminent domain issues, call one of the condemnation lawyers at The Mace Firm to schedule your free consultation.