ROADS/BRIDGES: South Carolina Senate approves $4 billion road-repair plan

April 28, 2016

The Senate proposal is also expected to be approved by the S.C. House

The S.C. Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a $4 billion road-repair plan that includes replacing nearly 400 bridges.

Legislators plan to pair the Senate’s funding proposal with a separate plan to restructure the oversight boards at the state’s two road agencies.

Critics say legislators should not control the S.C. Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which finances road-repair projects by issuing debt.

Senate leader Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, praised the proposal. “It is absolutely vital that we have a dedicated source of dollars going toward infrastructure projects,” he said, referring indirectly to failed efforts to increase the state’s gas taxes to help pay for road repairs.

The best chance for the road-repair proposal to become law is to combine it with a fix for the boards that oversee the roads agencies, said state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley. That is because some legislators only favor changing the structure of the roads agencies while others only favor more money for road repairs.

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has pushed for more control of the roads agencies. “We need to reform the (Transportation Department) so that we get rid of the political horse trading and instead have a state plan that focuses on needs like traffic, safety and economic development,” said Haley spokeswoman Chaney Adams. “Until that happens, we’re wasting taxpayer dollars."