SIB board votes to postpone I-526 discussion

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A highly anticipated discussion at the state capitol gets postponed.

The South Carolina Infrastructure and Transportation Bank (SIB) board met Thursday with an agenda item planned for the I-526 extension.

The board voted to postpone the extension discussion until the next SIB meeting.

"Things didn't go as well as they could but we're still in the game," Chip Limehouse said. Limehouse is the only Charleston representative on the state bank board. "As long as we don't vote to terminate it forever, I'm happy with that."

Limehouse says he is still hopeful about the I-526 project,"We discussed 526 at length and it appears there is some positive movement."

The SIB board was expected to talk publicly about plans for I-526, after privately meeting in executive session.

They were behind closed doors for nearly two hours.

"They obviously had a long discussion," City of Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg said. "When they came  back, they extended the deadline for the county and the SIB to come to an agreement to move forward with this project."

Tecklenburg supports the project, although the city does not get a say in whether the extension happens.

"It's the most important infrastructure project road-wise in our region," the city's mayor said.  "The impact on quality of life and mobility and public safety with the City of Charleston is paramount."

Charleston County would be responsible for the project and for finding the money needed to finish it.

"I think it will end up being about $380 from the SIB and Charleston County will have to come up with the rest of the money," Limehouse explained.

The SIB had promised $420 million towards the completion of I-526.

Limehouse says about $40 million has already been spent on property in the path of the extension.

Charleston County board chairman Vic Rawl says almost 150,000 people commute from James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah, and Seabrook every day.

"Is there a higher level of transportation and construction needed? Of course," Rawl said.

"Hopefully we'll adopt that, the County will be okay with that and we'll get 526 build and move past this 10-year impass," Limehouse said.

A tentative date for the next SIB meeting has not been set. Limehouse says it should be within the next sixty days.

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