Charleston County voters will not have a chance to decide the future of the controversial Interstate 526 project after a proposed referendum was voted down Tuesday.
The County Council voted against creating a referendum question on whether Interstate 526 should be extended through Charleston’s western suburbs. The project, which has been debated for nearly three decades, would connect U.S. Highway 17, via Johns Island with the James Island Expressway.
The council voted 6-2 against putting the issue on the November ballot. Most council members said the wording of the proposed referendum was too general and did not let voters choose which possible option they want. The referendum would have been nonbinding. Supporters said council should know if the public wants the highway.
Through previous votes, Charleston County Council has made it clear that they, as a body, do not support building the interstate beyond its current length. However, South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SCTIB) officials say the county would owe about $11.5 million from an SCTIB grant if it abandons the project.