by John Steinberger | June 5, 2019 4:42 pm
The on-again, off-again process for funding the completion of I-526 took a step forward Tuesday when the legislative Joint Bond Review Committee (JBRC) approved $12 million in funding for updating traffic and environmental studies. Charleston County is expected to match the $12 million. The next public hearing for the project is expected in the fall of 2020, with permitting and construction bids for the estimated $720 million project to follow.
The JBRC put the funding on hold May 8 when Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) sent the matter back to a subcommittee led by Representative Leon Stavrinakis (D-West Ashley) and Senator Thomas Alexander (R-Walhalla) to review the financing arrangements. The State Transportation Infrastructure Bank board has authorized $420 million for the project, with Charleston County on the hook for the balance. The Coastal Conservation League filed a lawsuit in state circuit court Monday challenging the legality of the use of Charleston County transportation sales tax revenue for the completion of I-526. No specific road projects were listed on the ballot when voters approved the sales tax in 2016.
Approximately $40 million has already been spent on the project for right of way acquisitions and studies. The I-526 completion project will connect West Ashley with Johns Island and James Island over a seven-mile span.
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