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Historic Amount of Improvement to Interstates Over the Past 10 Years, But Much More is Needed

Sign for I-385/I-85 interchange
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

South Carolina’s Interstate Highway system is its’ economic lifeblood.  But the state’s dramatic growth, and too many years of too little state funding find the system clogged with congestion in urban areas, and in desperate need of repairs in many rural areas.

Over the past ten years, more than $3.5 Billion in road and bridge work has been underway, an historic amount for the state. But as car and truck traffic volumes grow so do the needs.  The S. C. Department of Transportation estimates $20 Billion worth of road work is needed for the entire Interstate system.

-$14 Billion needed to widen all rural four lane interstates to six lanes. This would include widening Interstates 85 and 95 entering the state from Georgia and another section of I-26 between Charleston and Columbia.

-$5 Billion dollars for urban interstate interchanges in Greenville, Columbia and North Charleston.

- $1Billion dollars to reduce congestion in urban areas around interchanges where adding additional lanes aren’t practical such as I-77 going into Charlotte which is already at eight lanes.

The state is currently in the third year of a phased-in 12 cents a gallon gas tax increase.  In three more years the higher tax is expected to pump almost $800 Million a year into a trust fund account which is DOT’s primary road improvement fund.

DOT Secretary Christy Hall recently told a State Senate Sub-Committee that the $450 Million dollars currently in the trust fund along with federal funding is allowing DOT to conduct about $1 Billion in road and bridge improvements.

Russ McKinney has 30 years of experience in radio news and public affairs. He is a former broadcast news reporter in Spartanburg, Columbia and Atlanta. He served as Press Secretary to former S.C. Governor Dick Riley for two terms, and for 20 years was the chief public affairs officer for the University of South Carolina.