MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Myrtle Beach area leaders want the federal government to move forward with beach rebuilding projects on the Grand Strand next year instead of waiting until 2018.

The beaches are the heart of South Carolina’s $19 billion tourism industry.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports ( ) that local leaders including Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus, North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley and Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes have visited Washington to discuss federal money for beach renourishment with South Carolina lawmakers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now taking bids on a project to pour more sand on the beaches south of Myrtle Beach while a project in the Myrtle Beach city limits is set for 2018.

Lazarus says it would save taxpayers about $12 million if beaches on the entire Grand Strand were rebuilt at the same time because heavy equipment would need to be moved in only once.

All beaches along the Grand Strand lost sand from the storms last October.

The area from Surfside Beach south into northern Georgetown County lost about 330,000 cubic yards of sand during the storms and has lost 1.7 million yards since the beaches were last renourished eight years ago. North Myrtle Beach needs to replace another 1.7 million cubic yards of sand.

Myrtle Beach lost more than 117,000 cubic yards last October and more than 900,000 cubic yards of sand since the beaches were last rebuilt in 2008.

The federal share of all three projects is estimated at about $36 million.

Information from: The Sun News,

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