South Carolina's State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) recently made a decision to not allocate any funding for repairs to Charleston County's I-526 — a move Charleston County Board Chair Elliott Summey called "a slap in the face to Charleston County."
On May 26, Summey, accompanied by City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenberg and State Rep. Leon Stavtinakis, were in Columbia to discuss with SIB members the need and possibility for I-526 repair funding. The conversations lasted for more than three hours, but resulted in the SIB denying any funding for the county's roads.
"This decision is a serious disappointment to not only me, but to all of the residents of Charleston County," Summey said. "(SIB's) decision to not move forward with funding for the completion of I-526 has just put Charleston County in a very precarious situation. Without the completion of this roadway, our residents should expect longer commute times, more cars on current roadways that can only handle so much wear and tear and of course, the one natural disaster no one wants to talk about …. a hurricane."
Summey pointed out that flooding — such as the flooding that happened in October 2015 and closed Main Road on John's Island — could cause decreased routes for hurricane evacuation without repairs to I-526.
"On my way back to Charleston from Columbia, I remembered an October 2015 article from The State newspaper where two conservation activists literally laid down during rush hour on the Pamplico Highway for more than a minute before a car arrived," Summey said. "However, the state of South Carolina will fork over $340 million to expand it into a five lane highway from a two lane highway. I would like to offer the same opportunity for those that did not approve the decision for Charleston County — but did approve the Pamplico Highway expansion — to try the same experiment at Maybank Highway, River Road, Chisolm Road, Bees Ferry Road, Glenn McConnell Parkway, I-526, Main Road, Folly Road, James Island Connector and Savannah Highway without being hit by a car in less than one second."
Summey said news articles indicate SIB is funding about 70 percent of the costs for Florence County road projects, which he said was "unacceptable."
"With our county being awarded more accolades the last few years — more than many of our nation’s cities combined — it’s frustrating that some of our state officials don’t find the Lowcountry roads to be a priority," Summey said. "It is a priority to my colleagues, constituents and I to build and create safe, effective routes for everyday life and disaster situations. We will come together and make this work."