COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - State Rep. Chip Limehouse called Tuesday's passage of a resolution on the Mark Clark Expansion project "a bad day for I-526."
The State Infrastructure Bank Board members passed the resolution that sets a deadline for Charleston County to fund the I-526 extension project's shortfall of $353 million. If the county is unable to come up with that money by the end of March, the SIB can release the $420 million it set aside for the project after 60 days, which would put the project in jeopardy.
The resolution passed 6-1, with the lone dissenting vote coming from Limehouse, who represents Dist. 110 in Charleston County.
"We're in gridlock. West Ashley is in meltdown," Limehouse said. "It was the central issue in the mayor's race you recall. We've got to have more roads to move people, it's just not safe."
Prior to the vote, Limehouse proposed delaying the vote for 30 days, saying he would rather delay the project than see it die. When that proposal fell on deaf ears, he suggested the county be allowed to build the extension in segments, adding he felt the Federal Highway Administration would have been willing to work with the county.
SCDOT Commission Chairman and SIB board member Jim Rozier said he believes there are two reasons why the board gave Charleston County the ultimatum: First, the I-526 project has been delayed for many years. Second, some board members would like to see the $420 million already allocated for the project to be used elsewhere, Rozier said.
Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey released the following statement in response to Tuesday's SIB vote.
"Transportation is the number one issue of our region. Therefore, losing funding that would support the improvement of our infrastructure and transportation is unacceptable. It is imperative we retain the funding necessary to maintain and enhance the quality of life expected by our citizens.
I am very disappointed in some of the leadership in the state. The requirements placed upon Charleston County are impossible to adhere to and we are being set up for failure. We owe it to the citizens of Charleston County to go to all lengths possible to preserve and better their everyday lives. "
Summey had earlier written a letter to the board stating the county did not have the legal authority to abide by the board's resolution and said the potential penalty against county violates the contract to complete the I-526 project. Summey requested that the board reconsider the resolution in 30 days. Summey said Monday afternoon he and the county attorney received a resolution the bank board was expected to pass.