Key leader leaving Statehouse as I-526 project stalls

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Election day is just two weeks away, but one veteran lawmaker already announced he will not be seeking reelection on November 8.

State Representative Chip Limehouse (R) will not be heading back to the Statehouse in 2017 after more than 20 years serving District 110.

“At some point you have to turn the page go on to something new or different,” said Limehouse at his home on Johns Island Monday. The lawmaker wrote most of legislation that updated major roads in the Lowcountry, but the completion of one big one has eluded him. “526 is a sore sport,” said Limehouse, “that’s unfinished business for me. I wanted to see 526 completed before I left office.”

The State Infrastructure Bank Board voted in May to unravel the project, but those close to the extension project say there are new developments. Limehouse will relinquish his SIB seat when he leaves office and says he decided to leave long before project’s status became unclear. “It’s a deadlocked board in terms of those that support 526 and those that don’t.”

Rich Thomas is a member of of “Nix 526,” a group opposed to the extension project. Thomas is optimistic Limehouse’s political exit could mean the $420 million tied to the project will be eventually spent else where. “Once Limehouse leaves the bank board,” said Thomas, “it’s members will appoint some members who have a much better and progressive vision for where our tax money should be spent on roads projects.”

Limehouse knows he won’t be able to drive I-526 to his home on Johns Island as politician, but he says he would like to in this lifetime.

“It’s my hope that the SIB board will see the importance of 526 and complete it,” said Limehouse, “(it) doesn’t seem like it’s happening right now, but I’m hopeful.”

The Speaker of the SC House of Representatives will appoint Limehouse’s replacement on the SIB board.

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