This article was first published in the November/December 2014 Issue of South Carolina Business Magazine.
Anyone driving along South Carolina’s interstates has encountered severe congestion, potholes and dangerous conditions. Whether it’s Interstate 26 from Charleston to Columbia, Interstate 85 in the Upstate, Interstate 95 in the eastern part of South Carolina or a primary or secondary road anywhere in the state, one thing is clear: the time to address our roads and bridges has come. South Carolina cannot delay any longer.
In 2013, Mikee Johnson, president and CEO of Cox Industries and 2014-15 chairman of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, said, “Like thousands of other businesses, Cox Industries utilizes the state’s infrastructure on a daily basis, carrying products to and from the port and using our state’s interstates and secondary road system. Time is money. It is imperative that we have a reliable and safe infrastructure system so that commerce can easily flow throughout the state.”
Compounding the issue is the fact that the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is responsible for maintaining 40,000 miles of roads and bridges, the fourth largest state maintained system in the nation. Couple this with the fact that the Palmetto State largely relies on a 16-cent per gallon motor fuel user fee (gas tax) that has not been increased since 1987, and it is a recipe for disaster. In fact, 1987 represented the most significant investment in infrastructure in 27 years. Consider this: any citizen who accepted a job in 1987 at $15,000 per year would not expect to make $15,000 still today. That would be ludicrous. How can we reasonably expect to maintain the road system on 1987 dollars?