Charleston drivers react to roads bill, gas tax hike

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Drivers across the Lowcountry are reacting to news of the legislature's passage of a new roads funding bill—and gas tax increase.

"It was at four dollars a couple of years ago and we kept driving then," Jason, a West Ashley resident, said. "So a few cents to help the roadways and keep vehicles from braking, going over bad roads, broken windshields, stuff like that. Why not?"

 Effective July, the gas tax will go up two cents a year over the next six years, ultimately increasing a maximum of twelve cents by 2020. Ultimately hitting a twelve cent increase. The gas tax has not increased since 1987.
"It truly is a user's fee," Bryan Derreberry, President and CEO of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce said. "So if you're driving on the road,
you have a responsibility to help pay for those roads. So it's a measured approach to assure we have great infrastructure in the state of South Carolina."
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce is just one local group that's been advocating for roads funding.
"The state legislature's listened to our citizens," Derreberry said. "They listened to our business leaders and said 'no, this is something we are responsible for taking care for South Carolinians.'"
Yet, not all drivers are on board. While Antonio Simmons' acknowledges the roads need attention, he's not convinced a tax increase is in the best interest of drivers.

"That's a good thing they're fixing the roads but the gas prices? The gas is already high as it is now, and it's going higher," Simmons said. "That's
kinda pricey."

S.C. Governor Henry McMaster vetoed the bill, wanting even more reform from the Department of Transformation in lieu of a tax hike. Other changes include a one-time fee of $250 for drivers moving to South Carolina to register their car while registration fees for in-state residents will see fees go up sixteen dollars. But some say the increase could save drivers in the long run-

"It's $1,850 in repairs per South Carolina driver so I think we would all be happy to pay a little more at the pump to have safer better roads taking down maintenance costs on our vehicles," Derreberry said.

"Combining last year's Act 275 funding with these additional funds provides sustainable resources allowing the agency to immediately begin a Rural Road Safety Program, target interstate widening projects to replace our structurally deficient bridges and start the long process of rebuilding our existing road system," Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said. "The agency and its Commission are dedicated to our mission of providing an adequate, safe and efficient road network in South Carolina."
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