CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell said that the State Infrastructure Bank, in a unanimous vote, approved to front all the money, $556 million, to finish the I-526 project.
The SIB will take a formal vote on Friday, which Harrell also expects to be a unanimous vote. Until now, the SIB had only pledged $420 million.
"This vote has been a longtime coming and something much desired by our Lowcountry residents," Harrell said."After such a long fight and after overcoming so many difficult challenges, I felt it was important to the people of the Lowcountry, in recognition of the support they have given, to personally attend this vote in favor of completing 526."
"This was a vote for Greater Charleston area that I was proud to cast," Rep. Chip Limehouse said." We have all seen how the existing 526 span has greatly contributed to our area's business development and Charleston's smart growth over the years. Finishing 526 will continue to benefit the Lowcountry in many ways, all while doing so in a way that preserves our regions natural beauty and rich heritage."
I-526 currently ends at Highway 17 in West Ashley. The project would extend the interstate to connect with James and Johns islands. Harrell said that the I-526 project could be finished in time for the next PGA on Kiawah in 2019.
"Let's be clear, this isn't some new-fangled project or idea," Harrell said." I-526 was always meant to be completed and the people of the Lowcountry have well voiced their intent on this issue – they want this road finished."
Harrell said the money was the last obstacle for DOT and expects that I-526 will be finished in the next 7 to 8 years.