- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - It appears the state Transportation Commission will again study whether to use tolls to pay for building Interstate 73 through northeastern South Carolina.

Transportation Commissioner Mike Wooten represents the state’s 7th Congressional District where the interstate is planned and says he will ask for a study next month. The Department of Transportation staff is preparing a request for proposals for the study expected to cost as much as $200,000.

Wooten said tolls would probably be combined with other funding to pay for the road.

“Tolling is not going to be enough to pay for it,” he said.

A smaller, less extensive study of using tolls was done in the last decade.

Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says the interstate would help the tourism industry and says all sources of funding should be examined.

The interstate would connect the Grand Strand with Michigan. The South Carolina portion is expected to cost almost $2.5 billion.

There currently is no funding source for the highway. Local officials are asking federal lawmakers to include the project in this year’s Highway Reauthorization Bill, which provides money for large projects.

South Carolina already has set aside about $53 million to purchase land and conduct feasibility studies.

Environmentalists have opposed I-73, saying existing roads can be upgraded for less money and with fewer impacts to the environment.

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