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New completion date for International Dr paving & widening project

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The project to pave and widen 5.5 miles of International Drive in Horry County has been given a new completion date. Horry County Spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said the county anticipates the project will begin construction late 2014, and be complete late 2015.

Originally the cost of the project was estimated at $6.5M, but the county released a new number in 2010, noting the cost of the project was estimated at $15.5M.

Bourcier said the increase is because in order for the county to buy the land from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, it had to agree to further requirements than originally anticipated from DNR.

"Those included additional bear crossings, additional fencing along the natural path, as well as barrier control gates. We will have to put one at each end of International Drive to allow DNR to do controlled burns," Bourcier said.

The Riding on a Penny referendum was passed in 2006 by Horry County voters. Voters passed the referendum by a 61.4 to 38.6 margin- supporting the one-cent Capital Projects Sales Tax for roads. This tax went into effect on May 1, 2007, and increased the level of sales tax in Horry County an additional penny on all retail sales, accommodations and prepared food and beverage.

If the revenue designated on the referendum is collected before the end of the seven years, or if all of the listed projects have been completed before the end of the seven years, the tax will end earlier.

Again, Horry County is slated to receive $425,307,500 over the seven-year life of the one-cent Capital Projects Sales Tax.

Bourcier said the increase in the cost of the International Drive project won't be at any additional cost to taxpayers. Bourcier said the money to pay for all 15 Riding on a Penny projects will come out of the one-cent sales tax. Once the money runs out, the county will not be able to complete any more projects. Bourcier said the way the money is tracking, it seems probable all 15 projects will be able to be budgeted into the allotted $425,307,500.00 the Riding on a Penny project is expected to bring in. The sales tax will stop being collected May 1, 2014. Although the money won't be coming in, as long as there is enough money to fund all 15 projects listed on the Riding on a Penny project, they will be complete. There is no time frame for when those projects must be completed by. If the county brings in the $425,307,500.00 before May 1, 2014, according to the referendum- the county must stop collecting the sales tax.

The original date of completion for the International Drive project was set for 2013, the new completion date is late 2015. Bourcier said the delay of getting permits for the SC-707 widening project put the International Drive project behind.

"To obtain those permits actually cost us about 2 years delay in moving forward with those projects. And once we had a delay in those it pushed all the other projects that's behind it," Bourcier said.

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