Charleston County is suing the state over the long-stalled Interstate 526 project.
The lawsuit filed Thursday asks the South Carolina Supreme Court to find that the State Infrastructure Bank and the State Department of Transportation have violated a contract on the interstate completion. The county has long wanted to extend I-526’s current terminus west of Charleston down to its original planned ending in downtown.
According to The Charleston Post and Courier, the Infrastructure Bank pledged $420 million for the project ten years ago, with Charleston County agreeing to cover the remaining costs. However, the cost is now estimated at about $750 million.
The Infrastructure Bank has required Charleston County come up with a plan to cover the remaining $300 million shortfall. The county council responded with a resolution pledging its full faith and credit, but no specifics. The county has listed potential sources of funding, but no specific choice. The move did not convince the bank board, which voted in May 2016 to halt the project.
“We have had the votes for this project a long, long time,” Council Chairman Vic Rawl said in a Friday press conference. “And we have tried to move it forward under all sorts of ramifications.”
Critics questioned how the county council was able to file the lawsuit, since they did not vote in the matter as part of an open public meeting. State law allows bodies like a county council to discuss potential lawsuits behind closed doors, but any vote to proceed must be taken in public.