South Carolina gas tax increase creating jobs, paying for road projects

Dec. 13, 2019

The state's asphalt industry is preparing for 1,000 new jobs within the next five years as a result of the state's gas tax revenues

In 2017, the South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation to increase the state gas tax by 12 cents by phasing in the increase at two cents per year for six years, and the state is already seeing the benefits for transportation infrastructure.

The state's Roads Bill of 2017 was the first time in 30 years that the South Carolina DOT (SCDOT) had been provided with an increased and sustainable revenue stream.

Revenues from this new transportation funding source are helping to create jobs and pay for much-needed infrastructure improvements across the state. The money generated by the gas tax is deposited into a new trust fund called the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund, which combined with other federal and state funding, helps the SCDOT pay for its 10-year infrastructure plan.

According to a report from WSAV-TV, the state's asphalt industry is preparing for 1,000 new jobs within the next five years as a result of the state's gas tax revenues. This adds to the already existing 5,000 workers in the asphalt industry in South Carolina. Additionally, a statewide campaign called "Asphalt Works" is contributing to worker recruitment.

According to SCDOT, the new gas tax is funding over $1 billion in road and bridge work, including $762 million in paving projects, $117 million in rural road safety projects, $247 million in interstate widenings, and $11 million in additional bridge projects.

Within SCDOT's 10-year-plan, the department has outlined some of the work it plans to complete over the next decade on the state's roads and bridges. It says highway safety will be addressed by tackling the "worst of the worst" roads by improving 100 miles per year of highway infrastructure with a customized plan to make the roads safer in 10-mile segments. The department will also be replacing 750 structurally deficient bridges throughout the state, and will begin 11 or 12 interstate widening projects. Lastly, SCDOT plans to use 50% of the new revenue to begin resurfacing highways. The department says 80% of the state's 42,000 miles need to be resurfaced or rebuilt, and the goal by the end of the decade is to bring half of those roads up to a "good" rating.