$75 million to go toward I-526 expansion, Charleston Co. Council approves
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Millions of dollars will come from Charleston County Council to go towards the I-526 expansion after Tuesday night’s approval. This money will come from the first half-cent sales tax that the county approved back in 2004.
This is the second time Charleston County Council has attempted this vote. It was finalized with five yeas, three nays and one absence. Just like the council was during discussion, public comment was also divided.
“You are our trustees,” Elizabeth Singleton, who is against the county funding said. “This is not your money. It’s ours.”
Bradley Taggart, for the county funding, disagreed.
“Poll after poll has shown that people with this project are in fact permanently in favor of completing 526,” Taggart said.
Rick Voight, against county funding, says there are better ways to spend billions of dollars and should use better outcomes.
Joe Greck, for the county funding, encouraged all of council to support the funding, which they ultimately did.
The Mark Clark Extension will extend from West Ashley to Johns Island, James Island and areas of the Charleston metropolitan area to provide easier transportation and improved safety. The total project cost is more than $2 billion.
Councilman Teddie Pryor Sr. District 5 says if this began when it was first presented 42 years ago, it would have only cost around $280 million.
“And you know, people are saying ‘Well why do we delay it?’” Pryor said. “The more we delay, the more it’s going to cost because construction goes up.”
Councilman Larry Kobrovsky for District 2 says otherwise.
“I think it is a tremendous gamble,” Kobrovsky said. “Other words, we voted to spend $75 million of taxpayers’ money without any guarantee that it will be put to any use.”
Kobrovsky says he wishes they would have waited until the next sales tax referendum in two years for them to know exactly where this money will go.
“If we have $75 million that was designated for transportation money and we can put that to meaty use, let’s do that and not gamble,” Kobrovsky said.
Pryor says putting money towards 526 will not defer any other transportation projects going on.
“We just need to move on and move forward,” Pryor said. “People can make excuses or comments when they don’t want anything done, but I’m trusting that Secretary Hall and SCDOT working with us to get this project completed.”
Pryor says the next step is for South Carolina Department of Transportation to start the permitting process. No word right now on when that could start.
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