ROAD/BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION: South Carolina finally finds the funds for road, bridge work

$1 billion over 10 years is a start, but some wonder if it is a one-shot deal

June 25, 2013

It’s a start, but some in South Carolina wonder if it also is a finish.

For years the state opted to push road and bridge maintenance and construction aside in favor of other needs, but on June 24 Gov. Nikki Haley approved a $1 billion funding package over the next 10 years. Many were hoping for $5 to $6 billion, and the South Carolina DOT estimated $30 billion was needed over the next 20 years. DOT Director Robert St. Onge said the move was a promising one, but others are concerned it is a shot in the arm and nothing more.

“Let’s see what happens,” said Haley. “A billion dollars is a lot of money. I’ve always said a great economy is in a state with a lot of orange cones everywhere.”

South Carolina has one of the lowest gas taxes in the country at 16 cents a gallon, and it will not be raised to cover the $1 billion kick. Instead, the vehicle sales tax will be reallocated and the state will rely more on borrowing. The plan sends $50 million to South Carolina’s State Infrastructure Bank to use for major projects. A surplus will be used for bridge repair (up to $50 million), and $41 million from the reshuffling of the state’s sales tax on vehicles will be applied to secondary roads that have deteriorated over the years. Another $800 million to $1 billion could be generated from the borrowing and federal highway matches over the next decade.