There is a lot of talk about infrastructure. The proposed legislation in Washington, D.C., will produce billions of dollars to update an array of things, among them, of course, is roads.
If a plan makes it to a vote and passes, there is no telling what local communities in South Carolina will receive or how it will be spent. As for drivers, some of their money continues to go towards vehicle repairs caused by the roads. But sometimes the South Carolina Department of Transportation will foot the bill.
Shredded or blown tires, busted rims, and steering and alignment issues are just a few problems caused by poor road conditions. Repair and tire shops see vehicles all the time that fall victim to such things as potholes or uneven pavement.
At Quick Tire on College Park Road in Berkeley County, pneumatic airguns burp and whine as lugs nuts are spun on and off. The owner of the shop said he often gets the business from the bad roads.
“We see it, probably a couple times a day, cracked rims or bent rims and blown tires,” said Wes Venters. “Potholes are the major problem. If you hit a pothole hard enough the tire can pop, but generally it causes separated tires and the belt breaks inside the tire and the tire separates.”
Some drivers may not be aware that if it is determined a state-maintained road is the cause of the damage, a claim can be made with SCDOT and they will pay the cost for the repair. Numbers provided to the Summerville Journal Scene by the agency are proof DOT will follow through.
Between 2019 and June 2021, there were 169 claims made in Dorchester County, and the agency paid out $37,101 for repairs. In that same time period, there were 224 claims made in Berkeley County costing DOT $40,161.
There are instances a claim will be denied if the damage to the vehicle was the result of actions by a third party, like busted pavement and damage or theft of signs or signals. A claim form can be found on SCDOT’s website, but some drivers don’t make an effort.
“I’ve had a couple that have done it, but most of them go on to do what they have to do to get going again,” said Venters.
When it comes to fixing the roads, things are getting a little better due to new money and a new direction for DOT, but there is still so much to do to the nation’s fourth-largest state highway system.
In March, SCDOT released a progress report on how a phased-in gas tax, that started in 2017, is being used to update state roads. It showed a majority of the over $1.6 billion raised so far is being used to repair bridges, resurface and widen roads that, the report showed, have been neglected for three decades.