The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has announced a three-year period of steady progress of road and bridge construction as it pursues its 10 Year Strategic Plan to improve the state's roads after more than three decades of deferred maintenance. SCDOT's strong commitment to the Plan and its dedicated funding and the other resources SCDOT has available will see the end of year three on June 30, 2020 with a strong construction program.
The agency's 10 Year Plan began July 1, 2017 with the enactment of the state gas tax increase, which is being phased in over another five-year period. The Plan focuses on four priorities: rural road safety, paving and resurfacing, bridge replacements, and Interstate improvements.
The additional $384 million raised by gas tax and other revenues have allowed SCDOT to raise its construction program to an unprecedented $3.2 Billion, the largest ever in the history of the agency.
"We have had a very successful start on the long journey to repair and improve our state's 42,000 mile highway system with sustainable funding we didn't have for 30 years," Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said.
"Our state and nation are currently experiencing significant challenges. SCDOT has cut its internal operating budget by 11 percent in order to offset the short-term revenue impacts of the pandemic. No road and bridge projects have been cut, and our work to meet or exceed our 10 Year Plan goals continues," said Hall.
SCDOT utilizes analytical processes involving road safety data, the age and condition of roads and bridges, and traffic trends to prioritize projects. Both state and federal resources fund the projects. This includes the state gas tax increase the Legislature directed to the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund, which is dedicated to highway system repairs, maintenance and improvements.
To date, SCDOT has resurfaced or is resurfacing 4,240 miles. Included in that total is 750 miles in the Rural Road Safety Program. This program is designed to improve the "worst of the worst" deadliest roads in the state. Sixteen deficient bridges have been replaced or are under construction. And the Interstate Improvement Program has seen an investment of nearly $144 million. Combined with federal finds, work is in progress to widen I-85 in Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties and I-20 in Lexington County. SCDOT recently completed the I-85/I-385 Interchange in Greenville County.
This 85/385 project was designed to relieve a southeast regional "pinch point" between two interstates that improves safety, relieves congestion on an interchange that handles one of the top traffic volumes in the state and enhances the movement of freight between the Upstate and the Port of Charleston, a vital link in South Carolina's economy and growth.
Secretary Hall said these four programs are SCDOT's top priorities. "Our paving program is a start in repairing a highway system that been neglected for three decades. The Rural Road Safety Program is our response to SC having the highest fatality rate in the nation. We have 8400 bridges in our system. Each one a critical link in the system. And our economy is dependent upon good interstates to keep our economic growth moving forward," said Hall.
Hall added that the sustainable revenues provided in the 2017 Roads Bill is the first opportunity to make significant progress in South Carolina's highway system in modern times.
SCDOT also places a high value on the accountability and the transparency of the 10-Year Plan. The agency invites the public to review our county-by-county project list, the monthly account statement, an archive of previous monthly statements and a record of payments made to contractors and vendors.
This information is available on the website: www.scdot.org. Click on the link to "New Gas Tax Funds."