I-526 widening project moving forward while extension project stalls

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The plan to widen I-526 to six lanes continues to move forward.

Highway commissioner Jim Rozier says the state will begin looking for a design consultant in a couple of months, hoping to choose one by this fall.

But right now they have to get all of the environmental and wetland permits before any construction can happen.

The entire project is expected to cost $454 million. It will be paid for with money from the federal government, Rozier said.

That huge price tag will cover the cost to widen the entire completed portion of the interstate, stretching over 19 miles from West Ashley to Mount Pleasant.

The price to add more lanes breaks down to around $23 million a mile.

Commissioner Rozier says there'll also be major improvements to exit and onramps between Highway 52, which is Rivers Avenue, and Leeds Avenue.

Extension Project

It's been seven months since the I-526 Mark Clark extension project reached its biggest milestone, but hardly anything has happened since then.

The State Highway Commission already voted to give the project the go ahead, but there are two major hurdles slowing everything down.

Highway Commissioner Jim Rozier says he doesn't know when construction will start.

They have to fight many lawsuits that could end up increasing the already $556 million budget.

Rozier says a big portion of the money has already been approved by the State Infrastructure Bank, but there's a hold up for the rest of the money.

The State Budget and Control Board still has to approve an intergovernmental contract. It's the agreement between Charleston County, which is managing the project and the Highway Commission.

Rozier says he has no idea when that contract will be discussed.

Rozier says the start date for construction will depend on when all contracts are approved and when lawsuits are cleared.

According to Rozier, if all goes well, by the middle of next year they'll have a better idea of how the new portion will be designed.

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