Charleston County leaders say they got shafted with road funding

Charleston County, SC- Local leaders say they got the short end of the stick when it comes to state funding for roads. Legislation holding $4 billion dollars for South Carolina roads needs one more signature before its official. The state senate and house both voted to send the money through and now all it needs is Governor Nikki Haley.

Charleston county Chairman Elliott Summey says that the majority of the money from this legislation will go towards major interstate problems, but not other state roads that need fixing.

“If you look at the list, Greenville, Spartanburg Counties and Lexington where those legislators have to drive,” Summey said. “Every legislator in South Carolina has to drive through ‘malfunction junction’ at some point so they fixed that one first—$1.2 billion going to the capital. Ain’t no interest like self-interest.”

Author of the bill Senator Larry Grooms said “Some legislators believe that the best way to select road projects is to have legislators select the road projects. That is exactly the problem that I’m trying to fix. Projects should be selected by objective criteria instead of political preference.”

Summey says Charleston County’s problem is not crumbling roads, but that they need more roads. He says the state does not address that. “For 10-15 years we’ve been doing nothing but fixing state roads in our county. Infrastructure we don’t own, we’ve been fixing on behalf of the State and here we go again getting slapped in the face by not getting any of this road money.”

Sen. Grooms said, “Number 10 on the list is I-26 in Charleston County. It will not get funded until higher ranked projects get funded first.”

The top 10 projects on the list are:
1. I-26 Richland/Lexington County; Terminal TBD
2. I-85 in Cherokee County; SC 18 to US29
3. I-85 in Greenville/Spartanburg County; SC14 to SC129
4. I-526 in Charleston County; Clements Ferry to Long Point Rd.
5. I-26 in Spartanburg County; US176 to SC296
6. I-20 in Aiken County; Ga line to US25
7. I-26 in Berkeley/Dorchester County; US17A to SC27
8. I-85 in Spartanburg; SC85 to 85 Business Loop (Shoulder Improvement)
9. I-85 in Anderson/Greenville; SC153 to US 25 (Directional Widening)
10. I-26 in Charleston County; US17A to US52 Connector

Some money is going to fix areas of I-526 in Charleston County, but Summey says it’s a very small portion. “From the top of the Wando Bridge to Long Point Rd. which is probably less than a mile, is coming to Charleston. The rest of it, from a Lowcountry perspective, is going to Berkeley.

“You can’t fault Berkeley,” Summey says. He does not have anything against Berkeley County because they need the money too. “What’s happening with Volvo there were promises made by the Department of Commerce to help traffic around Volvo and it looks like the Department of Transportation is stepping up to fulfill those promises. Conversely, Commerce made a lot of promises to Boeing and the money’s never flowed down to fix those.”

Summey said Charleston County’s booming economy warrants some recognition with regard to road money. “We’ve had a renaissance of economic development on the cost. We cannot just allow that to happen and then. They’re building that port terminal as we speak. They’re going to add 50,000 trucks a year to I-526 and I-26, yet, we got nothing.”

Summey proposes the solution to help with the problem is passing another ½ penny sales tax in Charleston County. He argues that will give the County the money to control their own destiny with regard to their roads.

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