Take local control of our roads

Take local control of our roads
May 10 22:38 2016 Print This Article

Most of you have probably traveled along the “suicide merge”, where Old Towne Rd. meets Sam Rittenberg near the former Piggly Wiggly. This dangerous traffic problem could be fixed with a simple solution – install a traffic light at Old Towne, timed so that cars will no longer merge. The problem is, the road is controlled by the SC Dept. of Transportation (SCDOT), and the agency has not authorized installing a light there.

The SCDOT maintains an inventory of more than 44,000 linear miles of road, including small roads like Old Towne and Orange Grove. Local governments do not have the authority to change the speed limit or install a stop sign or light on state-controlled roads.

A recent audit of the SCDOT by the state Legislative Audit Council revealed some systemic problems, including lack of prioritization, an ineffective internal auditing system, and a lack of emphasis on periodic maintenance. In 2015, the SCDOT spent $182 Million on “metropolitan planning”. The agency has a poor track record of maintaining our local roads and rarely even cuts the grass, giving our roads an unseemly look.

To empower local governments and improve maintenance and appearance on our roads, we must encourage our General Assembly to pass legislation to transfer control of local roads to local governments with maintenance funds attached. We should not have to go through a state agency in Columbia to get potholes filled, install a traffic light or get the grass cut. I will urge the Charleston County Legislative Delegation to push for local control of our roads!