Summey: I-526 extension project deadline pushed back

Summey: I-526 extension project deadline pushed back

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey said Thursday the State Infrastructure Bank has decided to delay the March 30 deadline for the I-526 extension project.

This means Charleston County will have more time to figure out how they will raise the $353 million needed to finish the projects.

Charleston County Council plans to discuss the funding options at a regular council meeting on April 7 at 5 p.m.

Despite all of the setbacks when it comes to funding, Summey said the project is still on schedule.

"A project of this magnitude does not get permitted overnight," he said Thursday.

The application for money from the State Infrastructure Bank was sent in 2005, with an agreement signed in 2007. According to Summey it takes about eight to ten years to get all the designs and permits in place for a project like this.

"Ninety percent of the right-of-way has been purchased," Summey said. "So it's time for us to figure out a way to move it forward."

That's what county council will do in two weeks now that the March 30 deadline was pushed back.

"In the spirit of cooperation he's told me he's going to give us a little more time," Summey said.

The council will put together a resolution looking at all options for coming up with the $353 million for the project.

The State Infrastructure Bank has already set aside $420 million, however it is at risk of being taken away, which is why deadlines were set in December. The resolution made in December by the SCTIB said the board could release the funds set aside for the project 60 days after the March 30 deadline.

The projected cost of the extension is $725-$750 million. Some islanders says the extension is needed despite the costs.

"They should make it happen," Wadmalaw Island Laurie Johnson said. "I think it's needed. It's definitely needed, traffic is a mess in this area and of course I'm for it."

"The day I'm not really affected by it is on Sundays, that's when I go to church, and stay over here," Johns Island resident Alfred Gr ant said. "Other than that, I'm affected."

The extension would connect I-526 in West Ashley off Savannah Highway to areas in James and Johns Islands, looping to the James Island Connector.

"As far as I'm concerned we have a contract," Summey said. "That contract spells out the terms and responsibilities of each party. There are no deadlines in that contract, but we will respect their wishes as far as answering their questions. That is what government is supposed to do, we're supposed to work together."

Summey added a formal email was sent to the board Thursday morning about this deadline being pushed back.

An email to Vincent Graham, board chairman, was not immediately returned.

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