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SC: I-73 wetland trade halted

Last month, SC House members blocked a measure to use recently acquired wetlands by the state's Conservation Bank as compensation for 27 acres of wetland that will be lost due to the construction of Interstate 73. The 27 acres are from where Interstate 73 is intended to cross the Little Pee Dee River Heritage Preserve.

Two measures pushed by Horry County legislators were defeated. The first, a measure that required any wetland gained by the Conservation in the next fiscal year be used to offset highway construction fell by a vote of 61-51.

Another measure, that specifically called for any acquired wetlands be used to offset the 27 acres that I-73 will impact fell 66 to 47.

The DOT intends to finalize plans for I-73 from I-95 to SC 22 this spring, but must include a compensation plan for the impacted 27 acres. Last November, the Department of Natural Resources, who oversees the Heritage Preserve, said that they would not fight the construction of I-73, but did expect full compensation for the impacted wetlands.

If a compensation plan is not agreed upon, it could impact progress on I-73 by delaying the completion of the necessary permits.

Story: Trade plan for wetland derailed ---Myrtle Beach Sun News

Also: SC: Heritage Trust Board won't fight I-73 but expects compensation

Commentary:

Either bill would have provided a quick solution in how the impacted 27 acres of wetlands would be replaced. The defeat of the two proposals forces SCDOT to work with the DNR in a compensation plan on the wetlands. Something both parties have no objections to doing.

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