CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Findings from TRIP, a national research group based in Washington, D.C., suggest poor road and bridge conditions in South Carolina, are costing drivers nearly $3 billion dollars annually.
For drivers in the Charleston metro area, traffic crashes, congestion-related delays, and vehicle operating costs cost nearly $1,200 per year, the report states.
"When companies are saying we won't grow here, or we can't come here due to road conditions, that's a crisis," said Charleston Metro of Commerce CEO Bryan Derreberry.
TRIP presented its findings Thursday at The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.
The study also finds that throughout the state, 46 percent of major roads and highways are in poor condition, a near 15 percent increase from 2008.
Rocky Moretti, TRIP's associate director of research and communication, added one out of ten state bridges are structurally deficient, which falls within the national average.
Perhaps the most alarming stat from the report, at least for Chamber CEO Bryan Derreberry, the group found South Carolina has the highest traffic-related fatality rate in the entire country.
"Today, we can no longer afford to wait," he said.
"I think we're at a crisis point."
Derreberry predicts the Charleston metro area will grow in population to nearly one million people in the next 8-10 years.
That's up from more than 720,000 currently.
Robert Robbins, Chair of the Chamber's Infrastructure Task Force, is among proponents of a motor fuel user fee, with drivers paying more at the pump to fund state road construction.
"If you use the roads, then you pay at the pump," Robbins said.
"The folks that are not in favor of it call it a tax," he said. "We believe it's a fee because its based on the use of our roads."
CEO Bryan Derreberry added, the issue of fixing state roads is the Chamber's biggest lobbying issue of the year.
He says out of nearly 200 business leaders, 95 percent say it's their number one priority.
Derreberry said many of those leaders are scheduled to meet with Governor Nikki Haley regarding the issue, either at the end of the month, or early February.