Poised for a piece of the pie, SC roads leaders eye Trump infrastructure plan

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Drivers of South Carolina routes have wishlists of changes they would like to see made to the roads.

"If you could add a lane on each side, to make it a three-lane road, it would definitely relieve a lot of the congestion and allow traffic to flow a lot easier," 
traveler Richard Kosak said of parts of I-26 and I-95. 

A gas tax hike passed the State House and became law last year to fund safety fixes on deadly rural roads, but there are still things it can't pay to fix. Projects that are not funded by the state over the next 10 years include $1 billion in interstate widenings on I-95 and I-26 from Columbia to Charleston and $42 million annually in widening needs in urban and rural areas, like in congested growing communities.

"Not only from a driver's perspective but, as a business person, it's kind of aggravating because I hear my customers all the time like 'I spent 45 minutes to get to you and I literally was coming from the other side of town,' so it kind of makes you wonder, like, how much business am I losing because someone just finally gives up?" Lexington business owner Jeremy Addy said. 

In a round-table talk on state capitol grounds on Tuesday, leaders spoke on what's ahead for South Carolina roads. McMaster hosted Special Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, James Ray, and SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Secretary Christy Hall. The state could benefit the multi-trillion dollar plan, if Congress passes an infrastructure bill for it.

"We're excited about it. It's unprecedented as I mentioned it's uh the level of engagement…I have been with the DOT for more than two decades and I can tell you for the first time in my career this is- the opportunity just has not presented itself," Hall said. 

"Widening of our rural interstates would be something keen on our list to try to advance moving forward. As you know, we currently do not have a widening project for I-95. So obviously we're looking for ways to advance projects along that corridor. Closing the gap between the Columbia and Charleston area as far as widening that rural area of I-26 would also be something we look favorably toward trying to advance as well," she said.

Ray is optimistic Congress will pass an infrastructure plan this summer.

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