Post Tagged with: "RIDE II"

Horry County Infrastructure Myths and Facts

May 14, 2018 3:23 AM
Horry County Infrastructure Myths and Facts

Infrastructure, especially roads, is on many minds as campaigning moves to the June 12, 2018 primary elections.

Some questionnaires being sent to candidates for various council seats include one or more questions about infrastructure planning.

Four years ago, Mark Lazarus promised voters he would “Fight for greater investment in new and current roads.”

In some of his early campaign statements this time around, Lazarus has pointed to the Ride III initiative and International Drive as personal successes.

This is misleading.

Council has little to do with the Ride projects. A prioritized list is presented from an independent committee to council on which it votes up or down for the entire list. Council may not make any deletions or additions. If council approves the list, and it always does, the citizens vote on a referendum question whether to adopt a one-cent sales tax to fund the Ride program.

As far as International Drive is concerned, if any current member of council deserves credit for keeping the issue moving toward completion it is Johnny Vaught. It was Vaught’s uncle, retired Lt. Gen. James Vaught, who initially addressed the need for International Drive and continued to push for the project from the early 2000’s until his death in September 2013. I can still hear Vaught addressing council several times on the importance of International Drive always ending with “Get it done.”

After Johnny Vaught was elected to council in November 2014, he picked up where his uncle left off in seeing the project to completion next month.

A recent Facebook video on the Lazarus campaign page touts on to greater infrastructure as it pictures the Farrow Parkway interchange with U.S. 17 Bypass.

This is an unfortunate choice of roads to feature as it depicts one of the more outrageous projects the county has undertaken.

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International Drive Delay SCDNR Fault

February 11, 2016 12:03 PM
International Drive Delay SCDNR Fault

The delay in completion of International Drive can be laid directly at the feet of SC Department of Natural Resources.

I saw where a local media outlet attempted to get information on bear population in the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve from the SCDNR recently, only to be told the documents sought would cost $133.64.

Many South Carolina governments and their associated agencies attempt to hide behind the clause in the FOIA law that allows them to charge requesters for the cost of providing the informatiion. They frankly hope the cost won’t be paid and the information will stay secret.

Our own Horry County Solid Waste Authority is one of the worst transgressors.

But, this response to a request that has direct bearing on the continuing delay over permitting for International Drive was to be expected.

Specifically, SC Department of Natural Resources officials have, seemingly, intentionally held up finishing and paving the road bed of International Drive for over 10 years.

Initially the SCDNR attempted to keep Horry County from even considering expanding International Drive from its original dirt track through the woods into a passable, two lane road because of alleged red cockaded woodpeckers supposedly nesting in the right of way.

It was ludicrous, but underneath lay a bigger problem – for whatever reason, SCDNR did not want the road built.

After several years of being stalled, the county managed to solve problem by changing the position of the International Drive right of way to avoid the alleged woodpecker habitat.

As the county got into serious planning and acquired the funds to complete International Drive, SCDNR shifted its concerns to black bears in the woods near the road. This included forcing the county to plan for bear crossing tunnels underneath the road, raising the cost of construction and further delaying the start.

This SCDNR roadblock was, again, ridiculous. By this logic, most roads in Horry County, at least west of the waterway, should include bear crossing tunnels.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Vaught, a strong supporter of the International Drive project, asked a meeting of Horry County Council the question, “Where is a black bear going to cross the road?” He provided the answer in his own inimitable style, “Any damn where he pleases!”

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International Drive Court Date Set

November 20, 2015 7:55 AM
International Drive Court Date Set

The International Drive project will have its day in court beginning February 16, 2016.

The scheduling order came down a few days ago from the Administrative Law Court. Three days have been set to hear the case.

The Administrative Law Court was established by a 1993 state law to allow citizens affected by the decisions of certain state agencies to challenge those actions. Previously, challenges were heard by hearing officers of the respective state agencies.

The lawsuit to be heard by the ALC was filed by the Coastal Conservation League and the SC Wildlife Federation. It challenges a decision by the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to issue a water quality permit for construction and paving of International Drive to Hwy 90.

Think about this process for a minute.

The ALC was set up to allow citizens affected by decisions of state agencies to challenge those decisions.

The voters of Horry County passed the Ride II referendum, which listed International Drive as one of the projects on its list, in November 2006.

The citizens most affected by the International Drive project, those of Horry County, especially in the Carolina Forest and Hwy 90 residential areas, approved the construction project by referendum vote.

The Coastal Conservation League, which bills itself as working to protect the natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean water and quality of life in South Carolina, is not directly affected by the decision to go forward with International Drive.

In fact, I would submit the continued delaying tactics used by the CCL and its allies on the International Drive project works to reduce the quality of life of the citizens of Carolina Forest and Hwy 90.

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International Drive Delays

September 11, 2015 5:03 AM
International Drive Delays

The International Drive project is now awaiting its day in court.

According to sources familiar with the Administrative Law Court, the contested hearing before Administrative Law Judge Trip Anderson will be held sometime within the next 2-6 months.

Horry County has asked for an early hearing, but, if history on this project tells us anything, the Coastal Conservation League and its conservationist allies will delay as long as possible.

Since the SCDHEC Appeals Committee voted against a final review conference for the International Drive project, Horry County and the conservationists have had two face to face meetings and have exchanged several offers and counteroffers all to no avail.

A protest march before the Coastal Conservation League north coast office in Georgetown last month demonstrated the conservationists do not have public opinion on their side in this contest.

CCL and the SC Wildlife Federation requested a meeting with representatives of the groups that organized the protest, but that will not happen, according to sources familiar with the request.

That is probably a good thing because the typical tactic of the CCL and its allies is ‘divide and conquer.’

They haven’t counted on the determination of the homeowners in the Carolina Forest and Hwy 90 areas that will be helped by the construction of International Drive nor their unity in supporting the project.

In the filing to the ALC, the CCL and SCWF questioned whether there was a valid need for the road. They attempted to make a case that widening and other improvements to U.S. 501 are reasonable alternatives to the International Drive project. Those of us who live here know that is a ridiculous assertion.

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SC General Assembly Largesse to CTC

July 2, 2015 7:05 AM
SC General Assembly Largesse to CTC

Thanks to the SC General Assembly, it is Christmas early for County Transportation Committees (CTC) and their buddies.

CTC’s are one of those independent agencies started before Home Rule which allow the county legislative delegations to appear to be doing something for the people back home while maintaining control of the purse strings.

In 36 of South Carolina’s 46 counties, the CTC is an independent agency appointed by the county legislative delegation. County government should be the recipient in every county, but that’s not the way it works in South Carolina.

Basic “C” funds come from 2.66 cents of the 16 cents per gallon state tax on gasoline and are apportioned to the counties according to a formula established in state law. Horry County receives about $3.5 million each year from this source.

However, the SC General Assembly had about $300 million in excess funds to distribute for next fiscal year. Instead of the normal $3.5 million, the Horry County CTC will be receiving $15.1 million this year.

If that money had been returned to county government, there would have been no need for county council to raise the county road fee from $30 per vehicle to $50 per vehicle in this fiscal year.

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Delaying RIDE III Vote

January 27, 2014 7:00 AM
Delaying RIDE III Vote

With the RIDE II capital project sales tax set to expire in May 2014, there does not appear to be enough support among Horry County Council members to immediately push for a RIDE III program.

This is a good idea.

For those of you who may not remember, or not have lived in Horry County in 2006, the process of establishing projects to be funded by a one cent local option sales tax (that’s what a capital project sales tax is) is not one that should be rushed.

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