Governor Henry McMaster was joined today by S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Secretary Christy Hall and business leaders from around the state to announce a proposal which would accelerate existing plans to widen key portions of Interstate 26 between Charleston and Columbia.
The $360 million investment from the state’s share of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding will accelerate the project by at least 6 years, bringing faster relief to motorists and businesses that rely on this vital stretch of interstate.
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make transformative investments in our state that will accelerate the growth of our state’s economy and improve the quality of life for South Carolinians, and I can think of no better place to start than speeding up the process of widening our most vital interstates,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “Everywhere you look, South Carolina is growing – families and businesses are moving here and more people are visiting every day. We must have the infrastructure necessary to support that growth, and this investment would be a major step in that direction.”
“Interstate 26 was built more than 60 years ago. Since that time, traffic has increased and this segment of South Carolina’s interstate network has become plagued with congestion, delays and accidents on a routine basis,” said SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall. “It is time to widen Interstate 26. The previous plan was to stretch the 30 miles of widening work out in many phases through 2029/30 based on cash flows. This proposal utilizes a one-time funding boost of $360 million to pull the widening work forward, enabling the bulk of the widening to go to contract over the next 3-4 years, including some road work that is poised to start next year.”
The widening project has previously been determined by SCDOT to be a high priority because of the state’s growth and increased traffic on I-26. In just the last decade, statewide traffic has increased by nearly 30% with I-26 between Columbia and Charleston carrying more than 22 million vehicles per year.
“To maintain and growing our business to meet the demand of our customers, we must have the ability to move our raw materials, our finished products both domestically and internationally,” said April Allen, S.C. Manufacturers Alliance Board Chair. “We also need to move our people back and forth from work to home every day. That’s why today’s announcement of this investment to improve this section of I-26 is so very important. Strong and reliable infrastructure that helps move products efficiently and give our hardworking manufacturers the tools that we need to succeed is critical.”
“I-26 is truly the most important South Carolina-centric interstate corridor within our state, having enabled the development of growth in international and domestic economy like no other route in the state,” said Shawn Godwin, S.C. Trucking Association Board Chair and CEO and Owner of Palmetto Corp. “I-26 is a key artery for the flow of goods and services, as well as our South Carolinians. We urge the South Carolina General Assembly to follow Governor McMaster’s lead and use every dollar available to expand and improve the critical South Carolina lifeline, which is I-26.”
One eligible use of ARPA funds is the replacement of lost revenue a state experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. South Carolina experienced $453 million in revenue loss and the governor is recommending that $360 million of it be used for this project.
This investment will be included in the governor’s final recommendations to the General Assembly on how ARPA funds should be invested in the state. The governor plans to issue his final recommendations, following several meetings of accelerateSC, in the coming weeks.