Council votes on funding options for I-526 extension

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCBD) — The Charleston County Council approved a resolution, outlining ways the County could pay their share of the I-526 extension project.The state infrastructure banks says the County would be responsible to come up with $353 million to complete the project.

The extension would extend I-526 from West Ashley through Johns Island and then down to Folly Road on James Island. It’s been a decade since the state bank approved $420 million for their share of the project and now they want the County to prove they can pay for the rest of it.

On Thursday, April 7, the finance committee, and then council approved a resolution that keeps the project alive. The resolution satisfies the Bank’s most recent deadline, asking the County to provide potential funding sources for the I-526 extension project.

MORE: I-526 Extension

Back in 2006, the state set aside $420 million for the extension project but since then, cost estimates have increased to $773 million. The county needs to pay the difference.

The state wants to see how they’ll pay that difference or they’re threatening to take back their commitment of $420 million.

Tonight, council’s resolution says they’re considering a transportation sales tax referendum, implementation of a toll road, asking the Charleston County Transportation Committee for funds, or by reaching an agreement with the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchetser County of Governments.

News 2’s Matt Alba spoke with Charleston County Chairman Elliott Summey about the resolution.

“We are sending a resolution back saying we are going to explore those options,” Summey said. “It also gives us some time to vet those things. For instance, if we wanted to toll a new road that would have to be done by referendum, and the citizens would have to vote on that in November. any of these solutions are not things that can happen overnight and when you were talking about the type of money and the amount of money that we are talking about a quick these are not quick nor easy decisions and they’re not snap decisions.”

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg spoke at Thursday’s council meeting and asked the council members to approve the resolution to keep this project alive. He said it’s the best solution to addressing traffic concerns all over the Lowcountry.

County officials say the resolution will be sent to the South Carolina State Infrastructure Bank tonight to prove they are complying with the funding shortfall deadline. Chairman Elliott Summey says it’s up to the bank to proceed with the next steps of the project.

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