State Infrastructure Bank Board votes to revive negotiations about finishing I-526

State Infrastructure Bank Board votes to revive negotiations about finishing I-526

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Less than four months after the State Infrastructure Bank Board voted to kill the I-526 extension project, the board voted 5-2 on Tuesday to rescind it and reopen negotiations with Charleston County about finishing it.

The board secretary said Governor Henry McMaster and Charleston County Council member Elliott Summey met Aug. 28 to try and come up with a way to revive the agreement to finish the interstate.

“Everything we do is based on infrastructure and this has been a long the coming," McMaster said."I’m glad we finally got to this point. We need to get it built.”

According to the proposed agreement, the county, Department of Transportation and the bank board chairman have 45 days to come up with an agreement.

The county has proposed to kick in more cash, $305 million instead of the original $117 million, to get it done.

Summey says the money’s available.

Charleston County Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 6 p.m. to consider the proposal.

In June, the board voted 4-3 to kill the project which would have extended the interstate from West Ashley, where it currently ends, to James and Johns Islands.

Board members said they were convinced Charleston County didn’t have the funding secured to cover cost overruns for the project. County officials said they have abided by the agreement to finish I-526 and that the bank board hasn’t been working with them.

”I have no idea what it’s about," Charleston County Council Chairman Vic Rawl said of why 526 is being brought up again. "I’m as surprised as everyone else that it’s on there.”

McMaster's spokesman, Brian Symmes, said the governor told the SIB Board he was willing to do whatever it takes to complete I-526.

Earlier in May, McMaster sent a letter to board chairman John White asking the board not to take any action that would kill the I-526 completion project. The board then voted to delay any decisions on the project.

At that meeting, White said the board would work with Charleston County to come to "a mutual understanding."

The crux of the misunderstanding, it seems, is exactly how the completion would be financed. Completing the project is expected to cost approximately $725 million, and the original plan called for the SIB to commit to providing $420 million of that total, with Charleston County and the City of Charleston to foot the remainder of the bill.

Charleston County was asked to come up with $300 million to cover any cost overruns or legal fees.

County officials say they can come up with money.

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.