South Carolina’s highway commission has identified several major interstate improvement projects it hopes to complete with $500 million in bond proceeds that state lawmakers approved earlier this year.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation Commission is only making recommendations and will not have final say over the project list. That will be the responsibility of the State Infrastructure Bank, an independent agency that uses its financial leverage to fund larger highway and bridge projects. The bank’s board is expected to meet in August or September.
The top project on the list is revamping the Interstate 85/Interstate 385 interchange in Greenville. The commission recommends setting aside nearly half of the total proceeds ($240 million) for the work.
“That’s a shovel-ready project,” said Transportation Commission chairman Johnny Edwards told South Carolina Radio Network. He said the main goal is to widen I-85 in order to make the interchange more accessible and safe.
Also included on the priority list were widening nearly five miles of I-26 in Lexington/Richland counties, widening 25 miles of I-85 in Greenville/Spartanburg counties, widening 19 miles of I-526in Charleston County, ten miles of I-20 in Lexington County, 2.5 miles of I-77 in Richland County, and an additional 28 miles of widening in of I-85 in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.
A 2007 state law requires the Department of Transportation’s commission to finance highway projects based on a priority-ranking system. However, the Infrastructure Bank is not covered by the 2007 law. A resolution passed by the Transportation Commission last week asked that the bank board respect the priority system, stating, “taxpayers of South Carolina demand the best-use of the limited infrastructure dollars available.”
Tripp Girardeau contributed to this report