Rep. Chip Limehouse went back and forth last week on whether the State Infrastructure Bank has flexibility on funding alternatives to the I-526 extension.
In an article published Thursday, Rep. Limehouse told our reporter that the SIB does indeed have discretion in project funding, and cited the bank’s quick response to the city of Charleston’s Crosstown project.
But on Friday, he sent out a letter repudiating the story. The Crosstown project, he explained in his letter to County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor, was done as an emergency project.
It still demonstrated the SIB’s discretion to respond affirmatively to a request from a local government.
Too bad the SIB didn’t similarly consider County Council’s request for optional road improvements, sought as an alternative to the I-526 extension after it was largely rejected in public hearings in 2010.
Those other projects should still be on the table as an alternative to the controversial I-526 project.
And there is further evidence backing up Rep. Limehouse’s initial assertions about the SIB’s discretion.
It happened in York County when the SIB allowed flexibility in the use of its board-approved funding.
The SIB approved the transfer of money earmarked for the Dave Lyle Boulevard Expansion to other local projects.
That sounds a lot like what Charleston County Council was trying to have the SIB do regarding I-526.
As Council member Colleen Condon told our reporter: “The question isn’t whether there’s the political ability to transfer funds, but whether there’s the political will to transfer funds.”
Meanwhile, on Monday Rep. Limehouse appeared headed back to his original position, telling our reporter that the SIB has broad discretion on funding, while adding that “there’s a big difference between could and would.”
If only the SIB were as flexible as Mr. Limehouse.