Critical meeting for I-526 set for July 20

Critical meeting for I-526 set for July 20
July 14 12:45 2017 Print This Article

The State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) meets Thurs., July 20 to discuss the future of the I-526 completion project. The project, estimated to cost $720 Million, would connect West Ashley with Johns Island and Johns Island with James Island.

In 2012, the STIB committed $420 Million to the I-526 project. In 2014, the STIB entered into a contract with Charleston County, the City of Charleston and the South Carolina Department of Transportation delineating responsibilities for project completion. Charleston County was tasked with securing the funding for any completion costs beyond the $420 STIB grant. Charleston County Council was unable to identify a funding source and the STIB later called for an unwinding of the contract.

Subsequently, Charleston County has received a commitment of $195 Million in federal Guideshares funding from the Charleston Area Transportation Study Committee (CHATS) and Charleston County Council pledged to commit an additional $150 Million for the project, while failing to identify a specific funding source.

Shortly after taking office in January, Gov. Henry McMaster replaced STIB Chairman Vince Graham, who opposed the project, with  at the request of Charleston area legislators.  Spartanburg lawyer John White now serves as chair.  Former State Representative Chip Limehouse is the only Charleston area member on the seven-member STIB board. The others are Senate President Hugh Leatherman from Florence, Ernest Duncan from Aiken, Representative Gary Simrill from Rock Hill, Joe Taylor from Columbia and Woody Willard from Spartanburg. Simrill and Willard are also McMaster appointees.

Limehouse urges residents who want to see the project completed to voice their support by calling the Governor’s office at 803-734-2100. “We need a call to action,” Limehouse said. “This project is vital to our area, and we need to encourage Gov. McMaster to show support for it.”