by John Steinberger | January 10, 2019 12:46 pm
The South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank voted 5-2 Thursday to amend its contract with Charleston County and the SCDOT to complete I-526, also known as the Mark Clark Expressway. The infrastructure bank stuck to its 2007 commitment to contribute $420 million to the project, and Charleston County is obligated to pay the balance. The project is now estimated to cost in excess of $720 million. Charleston County’s one percent transportation sales tax was cited by infrastructure bank counsel Rob Tyson as the primary local funding source. Charleston County will also be obligated to defend any lawsuits filed to stop the project, which are expected to come from the Coastal Conservation League and other groups which oppose it. The contract amendment is contingent upon Charleston County Council voting to approve it at its 5 pm meeting tonight.
The infrastructure bank voted in June 2018 to terminate the project. Governor Henry McMaster persuaded the seven-member board to re-enter negotiations with Charleston County, which the board agreed to do in October. Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman stated that he never opposed the project but voted against amending the contract. Former state Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor was the other member who voted against the measure. Former Charleston State Representative Chip Limehouse was happy about the project being salvaged, stating, “What a difference seven months make!” Limehouse has been a champion for the project from the very beginning.
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