State Infrastructure Board to discuss 526 extension Thursday

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank is bringing the I-526 extension project back on the table.

Bank officials released their updated agenda for Wednesday, July 20, on Tuesday which includes the Mark Clark Extension.

For some, extending 526 from West Ashley to James and Johns islands is ideal.

"I live on the far side of the island and it's just a long drive to everything," Johns Island resident Chuck Buser said.

For others, the extension will worsen things.

"It will increase traffic on rural roads," Johns Island resident Rich Thomas said.

Most however agree that it's time to make a decision.

That includes the only Charleston representative on the state infrastructure board, Chip Limehouse.

"We can't evacuate the islands in a hurricane. We can't get children to school, or people to work. It's time to finish 526," Limehouse said. "It's time for the SIB to settle down and focus, vote to give us our money. It's already been allocated in a contract."

The South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Board (SIB) is the group putting up more than half of the money for the project.

The contract commits $420 million in state funds for the project.

Limehouse says Charleston County Council will have to come up with a way to pay the rest which is more than $300 million.

"It will cost too much, it won't perform as well as they say. It will be a waste and will contribute to the ongoing destruction of the island," Thomas said.

Buser argued that we don't have a choice.

"The islands are growing so much and there needs to be more access," Buser said. "There's a lot of congestion on the bridges and it would be nice to get downtown easier."

"You can't be an ostrich and stick your head in the sand and pretend people aren't coming here. They're coming so we need to either build the road and schools to accommodate them or build a wall around Charleston County to stop entry," Limehouse said.

Limehouse says he is not optimistic a vote on 526 will take place on Thursday.

On the agenda, it simply states there will be a project update on Wednesday.

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