Charleston mayor withdraws I-526 proposal to SIB Board

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg Thursday withdrew a proposal to the State Infrastructure Bank Board that would have linked the Mark Clark Extension with other projects in the county.

The proposal was co-authored by Tecklenburg and Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey. In a letter to SIB Board Chairman Vincent Graham, Tecklenburg said Hurricane Matthew prevented them from meeting with the board at a scheduled meeting on Oct. 6. He said he felt he must withdraw the proposal because it contained contingencies related to the sales tax referendum on the November ballot, and because the board is unlikely to be able to meet before Election Day.

Tecklenburg said he remains fully committed to working with Graham, the board, and Charleston County to complete I-526.

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Chairman Graham:

Thank you for your email last Friday, October 21, 2016, in response to mine asking about the possibility of the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) Board meeting before the November 8 election.   Now with less than two weeks to the election, I am interpreting your response—"I don't think so"—as a no.

I had been looking forward to having the opportunity to discuss with you and the board the proposal outlined in my and County Council Chairman Elliott Summey's letter of September 15, 2016. But for an act of God, in the guise of Hurricane Matthew, we would have had that opportunity at the October 6, 2016 SIB meeting.

The September 15 proposal included contingencies related to the upcoming sales tax referendum that is on the November ballot here in Charleston County. Because the SIB will apparently be unable to meet before that referendum to entertain the proposal, I feel that I must withdraw it.  Rest assured that, notwithstanding the necessity of having to withdraw the proposal, I remain fully committed to working with you, the SIB Board, and Charleston County to resolve issues related to the IGA, positively and thoroughly, to enable the completion of the extension of the Mark Clark, which is critical to meeting transportation demands the community faces. I am confident the phased approach we proposed is achievable.

Perhaps the September 15 proposal was ambitious, if not too intricate, in its linkage of the Mark Clark Extension with other projects in the County, such as the mitigation related to the ICTF (Intermodal Container Transfer Facility). My intention was not to complicate issues. I assure you my objective was simply to address pressing infrastructure needs that Charleston County has now, which will only be exacerbated by state projects that are now underway, the mitigation for which has not yet been resolved. That is why, in my opinion, the opportunity to discuss the September 15 proposal was so important. As that opportunity will not come to fruition, the City has no alternative but to independently pursue the mitigation it needs to offset the impacts that will be caused by the ICTF with the state (Palmetto Railway/Commerce/SPA). 

Thanks again for your response, and I look forward to working with you and the board in the future.  

In the September proposal, Tecklenburg and Summey said if the county could get the $420 million in state money set aside for the project, the City of Charleston would pay for all legal fees associated with the project and would also help the state by matching funds on other state road projects.

The total cost for the I-526 expansion is about $725 million.

This is a developing story. Check back for additional information.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. All rights reserved.