Richland Democrat Rep. James Smith formally kicked off his gubernatorial campaign Tuesday in downtown Columbia. Smith, 50, is a Columbia native who has served in the South...
Gas Tax Increase Already Funding 200 Miles of Pavements
More than 200 miles of roadways are set to be repaved across the state due to the gas tax increase lawmakers approved in May.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation announced Thursday that $26.5 million worth of projects are moving forward. SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall said that without the passage of the bill—which annually increases the gas tax by two cents a gallon of gas for six years—these projects would not happen.
“SCDOT engineers were prepared to advance these projects to contract prior to the passage of the Roads Bill,” Hall said in a statement. “Now that the General Assembly has taken decisive action on guaranteeing road funding to support our plan to rebuild our roads, we are committed to putting those dollars to work quickly and will continue to advance projects to contract in accordance with our plan.”
The transportation agency estimates it will receive $150 million this first year from the gas tax increase. Most of that has already been committed, including $50 million that will annually fund a rural road safety program.
"The research done by our engineers has revealed that 30 percent of our highway deaths occur on only 5 percent of our highways and these roads are in our rural areas,” Hall said previously.
Some 1,000 miles of rural roads will see a variety of improvements as needed in each location. Among the improvements are the addition of rumble strips, guard rail, widening shoulders and building shoulders where there are none.
When the 12-cent per-gallon gas tax is fully implemented, along with other driver-related fee and tax increases, the agency will receive $600 million annually dedicated to road improvements. An additional $200 million annually was previously approved by lawmakers.
Part of those previously approved dollars will be leveraged by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank to borrow $5 billion to fund an interstate widening program that will include the $1.5 billion Malfunction Junction project in Richland and Lexington counties.
On top of the rural road program the additional dollars will replace 465 bridges, improve 140 miles of interstate and double paving efforts across the state over the next decade. While work will improve road conditions statewide, it is just part of the 80 percent of pavements, at a cost of $11 billion, that are in need improvement.
Hall recently discussed the influx of money and agency plans to improve road conditions with Charles Bierbauer on SCETV’s This Week in South Carolina.
See all road projects currently underway with the new dollars.
Information on current projects, public meetings and public comment can be found here.