Monday, 13 September 2021 22:38

Report Card's Infrastructure Grade Highlights South Carolina's Needs

Written by John Haughey, The Center Square
An interchange of Interstate 26 in South Carolina. An interchange of Interstate 26 in South Carolina. Daniel Wright98/Shutterstock


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South Carolina’s roads and bridges face a projected funding gap of $43 billion by 2040 and more than 50% of the state’s roads are in “poor condition,” according to the South Carolina section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (SC-ASCE).

The civil engineers association released its 2021 report card on South Carolina’s infrastructure Sept. 8 at the Statehouse in Columbia.


The report card examined eight infrastructure categories and gave the Palmetto State a D-plus grade, a notch below the C-minus grade the ASCE issued for the nation’s infrastructure.


A grade of B for ports and a C-grade for bridges were the two highest scores calculated by the SC-ASCE. The other six grades were in aviation (D-plus), dams (D), drinking water (D-plus), roads (D), transit (D-plus) and wastewater (D).


“South Carolina has made significant strides in addressing its infrastructure in recent years to better prepare for a booming population,” the report card said, praising lawmakers for raising the state’s gas tax by 12 cents a gallon for six years starting in 2017 to generate more than $625 million in increased road funding.


“South Carolina’s agencies and leaders have taken matters into their own hands to ensure our network of infrastructure systems are suitable for a 21st-century economy and expanding demographic,” SC-ASCE President Jonathan Thrasher said. “Now it is time for the federal government to do its part in aiding our communities with the necessary funding to bring all of our systems to a state of good repair.”


The report card comes as South Carolina lawmakers prepare for a fall special session to allocate more than $3.1 billion in “one-time” money---$600 million from the Savannah River Site (SRS) plutonium settlement and $2.5 billion in pandemic assistance via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).


Gov. Henry McMaster recommended $360 million in ARPA money to be allocated to...

...widen Interstate 26 between Charleston and Columbia.


South Carolina also could receive $4.6 billion for highways and $274 million for bridges as part of the five-year, $1.2 trillion federal INVEST in America Act, approved by the U.S. Senate and is being debated in the House.


Under the INVEST in America Act, South Carolina also could tap into a $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program, a $16 billion fund for economic development projects, a $5 billion fund for public transportation improvements, $100 million to extend broadband internet connectivity and a $70 million fund for creating electric vehicle charging networks.


“South Carolina’s transportation network is improving, but there’s still much work to be done,” said South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Secretary Christy Hall.


SCDOT is ahead of schedule in its 10-year plan, “and we continue to improve the worst of our rural roads to make them safer,” Hall said. “In addition, we hope to have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put a significantly greater federal investment to work widening all of I-26 between Columbia and Charleston and expanding many local roads across the state that are congested.”


We thank The Center Square for reprint permission.


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