Midlands and Upstate benefit in road funding vote

The Lowcountry came away empty-handed Tuesday when the State Infrastructure Bank board approved up to $550 million for interstate improvements.

“We got nothing today. We’ve gotten an inordinate amount prior to today. Mount Pleasant and Charleston have come out by far the big winners,” said state Rep. Chip Limehouse, a Republican from Charleston who serves on the bank board.

The local area has benefited tremendously from SIB funds because it has received hundreds of millions of dollars for projects such as the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the ACE Basin Parkway and widening of Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, Limehouse said.

Limehouse said he serves the interests of the entire state on the bank board, as well as being an advocate for the Lowcountry.

“I can’t not vote for projects in other parts of the state. This was the right thing to do,” he said.

The bank board approved a list of projects provided by the state Department of Transportation, officials said.

Improvements the bank board approved Tuesday included:

An Interstate 85/385 interchange project in Greenville County. The bank will provide $80 million in combination with DOT providing $140 million in federal funds. This 4.3-mile project is ranked No. 2 on the interstate improvement priority list.

Widening of Interstate 20 in Lexington County, a 10.3-mile project from U.S. Highway 378 to Longs Pond Road. The project is ranked No. 9 on the interstate improvement priority list. The budget for the project is not to exceed $155 million.

Widening of Interstate 85 in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties, a 16-mile project that ranks No. 18 on the priority list. The budget is not to exceed $262 million.

Widening of Interstate 77 in Richland County. The 2.6-mile project extends from I-20 to S.C. Highway 277. The project ranks No. 15 on the priority list. The budget is not to exceed $38.7 million.

$10 million for preliminary engineering for the Interstate 26/I-20 interchange project in the Midlands commonly known as “Malfunction Junction.” This is the No. 1 project on the priority list.

SIB board Chairman Don Leonard is scheduled to present the list to the Legislative Joint Bond Review Committee for final approval on Dec. 4.

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