CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation has approved completing widening of I-26 between Charleston and Columbia.
According to SCDOT officials, it will cost $1.8 billion. The program also includes the first planned widening project of I-95.
Officials say the section of I-26 between Columbia and Charleston as well as a portion of I-95 at the southern end of the state are noted as the top three rural interstate corridors designated for widening by the Commission.
“The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Commission approved expanding the agency’s interstate widening program by specifically targeting rural sections of the interstate system that are critical to the movement of freight across the state,” SCDOT officials said."This freight program is in addition to the interstate widening program that has been set in motion for the urban areas of the state."
Officials said the Commission approved directing $110 million annually towards tackling the widening projects once the fuel tax credit program sunsets in July of 2023.
This is the six-year program in which motorists can file for tax credits connected to the increased fuel tax enacted in 2017 on their state income tax returns, according to SCDOT officials.
Commissioners say improving the roads is critical to the economic growth of the state, because trucking is the primary mode of freight travel in South Carolina.
“Trucking is the primary mode of freight travel in South Carolina and it’s projected to grow by more than 60% over the next two decades," said Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall."To close the widening gap on I-26 between Columbia and Charleston is estimated to cost about $1.8 Billion in today’s dollars and to widen the first 33 miles of I-95 is estimated to cost $1.2 Billion. We must start today with identifying how to break these corridors into projects that can be advanced as funding becomes available.”