Charleston County, City unite to fund I-526 project completion

VIDEO: Charleston County and city unite efforts for I-526 completion project funding

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County is still searching for the best way to come up with more than $300 million for the I-526 completion project. The county and the City of Charleston have united in those efforts and now the city council could be asking for eight more months to help figure it out.

City council will vote on a resolution requesting for more time on Tuesday.

"The project is important, not just for our city but our whole region," City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said.

Tecklenburg is pushing for the completion of I-526 that currently ends in West Ashley. The road would connect I-526 to John and James Islands and he's exploring options to get it done.

"I'm going to ask my city council to authorize me to make an official request to our Department of Transportation that the City of Charleston could be the sponsor of a toll that would help fund this project," Tecklenburg said.

He says a toll road is a last case scenario. Now county and city officials are working to come up with millions of dollars so they don't lose the $420 million set aside from the State Infrastructure Bank. Officials are still considering a sales tax referendum as another viable option.

"It really needs a regional solution, it's a regional problem, so I think the city and county working together would be really good," West Ashley resident Dennis Lesieur said.

While many are for the project in hopes of relieving congestion and providing better connectivity, others oppose it. Some people are against the overall costs, environmental concerns and they don't want the funds to come out of their own pocket.

Tecklenburg says easing traffic, public safety in the case of a natural disaster and the creation of a link for a future public transit system are reasons he's in support.

"I generally don't expect to see anything happen very quickly even if they do agree on building the road," Lesieur said. "I think it's going to be a long time before it actually comes to fruition."

On Thursday, the City of Charleston and Charleston County leaders will talk with the State Infrastructure Bank Board in Columbia to find out the status of the project and if they will be granted time to figure out a way to pay for it.

"Keep your fingers crossed, knock on wood and hope for a good turnout on Thursday," Tecklenburg said.

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