Lowcountry business group reaches out to McMaster on road funding

The Trident CEO Council sent a letter to Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster seeking his support for funding for the I-526 extension  

The Trident CEO Council, an organization of company chief executives from throughout the Charleston region, has reached out to Lt. Governor Henry McMaster regarding funding for local roads.

“Congratulations on your upcoming transition to become South Carolina’s next Governor!” wrote the council in a letter to McMaster, who is slated to succeed Gov. Nikki Haley when she is confirmed as the Trump Administration’s new Ambassador to the United Nations.

“We believe that the Extension of I-526 is a matter of ‘When, not ‘if’,” continued the letter, which invited McMaster to address an upcoming council board meeting. “We strongly support Charleston County and the City of Charleston in their desire to complete the I-526 and identify local matching funds to move forward with this Extension in a phased approach.”

The council also urged McMaster to put an advocate for local road funding on the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SCTIB).

“We would ask that you appoint a Chairman of the Infrastructure Bank that truly Stands for Improved Infrastructure and agrees to the SCTIB’s $420 million commitment,” reads the letter.

Last month, the council wrote a letter to the SCTIB board urging them to release funds slated for the I-526 extension.

"It is our understanding SCTIB  has a legally binding $420 million contract for the extension of I-526," wrote council chairman Marc Fetten and executive director Tom Leonard in that letter. "Last year about this time, Chairman (Vince) Graham was quoted in the newspaper referring to I-526, 'The bank (SCTIB) has legal contracts in place which it must honor.'"

The SCTIB board met in December to consider approving the disbursement of the $420 million, but decided to delay a decision on the measure until its spring meeting.

The bank board said the delay is meant to allow Charleston County officials time to identify local matching funds for the project. 

The project, first proposed in 2007 and with a total price tag of $725 million, was held up after the bank’s board yanked approval this year because local leaders could not come up with a plan to match the funds.

In an interview with Palmetto Business Daily, SCTIB board member James Wooten, chair of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, said that the infrastructure bank is contractually obligated to release the funds.

“There is a contractual agreement with Charleston County and it should be adhered to and because of that contract there is no choice but to be in favor of the contract with the intent to build the road,” Wooten said.

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Governor Henry McMaster South Carolina Department of Transportation Trident CEO Council

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