State Infrastructure Bank approves full funding for I-526 project

Published: Aug. 17, 2012 at 9:14 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2012 at 2:31 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - $558 million has been approved by the State Infrastructure Bank to finish I-526 extending it from West Ashley to James and Johns Islands.

It's been a project years in the making and now it takes one big step forward Friday night with the approval of that money.

The state's transportation infrastructure bank board held a conference call on Friday. That's where the six-member board voted unanimously to approve the remaining money for the project.

"Our area is becoming a world-class destination, and we have to have quality transportation," Board Member Chip Limehouse says.

Until now, the bank only pledged $420 million. The vote Friday was for the rest of the money: $138 million dollars.

I-526 currently ends at Highway 17 in West Ashley. The project would extend the interstate an extra eight miles to connect it with James and Johns Islands.

Though a goal of the project is to alleviate congestion, some people say an extended interstate would increase traffic onto those islands.

"It will accelerate development in an area that it is not wanted in and it is not needed in," Coastal Conservation League Director Dana Beach says.  "It will reduce travel time in the most minuscule way."

The Department of Transportation must still accept the project.

Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell says that if the Department of Transportation accepts the project, construction will be complete in the next 7 to 8 years.

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