The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has significantly increased its work program with $3.2 billion in construction projects statewide, according to Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall. Hall recently updated the S.C. Senate Transportation Committee on the agency’s strategic 10-year plan to improve South Carolina’s roads and bridges at a meeting in Columbia.
During her 2020 “State of SCDOT” address, Secretary Hall said the agency has tripled the amount of work to improve South Carolina’s roads since the state’s gas tax increase took effect in July 2017.
She said progress is being made to address a 30-year backlog of deferred maintenance thanks to the gas tax trust fund along with federal funds and other state funds that support SCDOT’s 10‐year plan. South Carolina has the 4th-largest state highway system in the nation and the 6th-fastest population growth rate.
The agency’s top priorities are:
Safety – SC has the highest rural fatality rate in the nation
Paving – SC has a large road network that had been neglected for three decades.
Bridges – SC’s bridges are vital links in the system and must keep pace
Interstates – SC is booming and our economy is dependent upon good interstates.
“My overall message to you is that we are progressing on all four of our targets,” Hall told the Senate committee.
More than $1.3 billion of new gas tax funds have been invested in road and bridge work, including $585 million paid to contractors and another $846 million in payments to be made when work is completed.
SCDOT is investing $50 million a year to target rural roads for safety projects as nearly 30 percent of the state’s fatalities and serious injury crashes occur on just 5 percent of our network. Hall said 393 miles of rural road safety projects have been addressed so far, and that number is well ahead of schedule to meet SCDOT’s target of 1,000 miles over 10 years. In addition, 114 bridge projects have been addressed with a 10-year target of 465 bridges.
The pavement quality of the state’s “major roads,” which carry the vast majority of daily traffic, has improved to 42 percent rated in “good” condition, an increase of 16 percent since 2017.
SCDOT has also begun an aggressive interstate widening program targeting bottlenecks in urban areas and key rural sections needed for freight movement. These projects include the I-85/I-385 interchange, which was completed and opened in December 2019; the Carolina Crossroads project to improve Malfunction Junction; and the I-26/I-526 interchange. I-85 between Spartanburg and the North Carolina state line is being widened and planning or preliminary engineering has begun for I-95 from the Georgia state line to US 278 and I-26 between Charleston and Columbia.
Hall said much work still must be done, as she said, closing her presentation with a quote from Mark Twain: “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”