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Commission Approves STIB Projects

You will recall that the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) Board met last week and approved four projects for funding:

  1. SC 41 Widening Project in Charleston County
  2. Whiskey Road Connector Project in the City of Aiken
  3. SC 246 Widening Project in Greenwood County
  4. I‐77 @ Exit 90 (Carowinds) Interchange Upgrade in York County

However, before the STIB can provide financial assistance, the projects must be submitted to the SCDOT Commission for consideration. (This process was implemented by Act 275 of 2016.)  You can view details on last week’s STIB actions submitted to the SCDOT Commission here. 

Commissioners approved all four projects, as they were relevant to MPO/COG and SCDOT transportation plans. The projects now move to the Joint Bond Review Committee (JBRC) for review. View the full STIB Presentation by SCDOT staff here. 

SCDOT Leadership Staff Shifts

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall announced during the meeting that, effective immediately, Justin Powell has been promoted to Chief of Staff, and Maggie Hendry has been promoted to acting Deputy for Finance and Administration. 

SCFOR congratulates Powell and Hendry on their promotions, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in their new capacities. 

Commission Approves Revisions to 10-Year Plan

SCDOT Commissioners approved updates to the state’s 10-Year Plan to fine-tune investments across programs to accommodate the new federal and state dollars. 

You will recall that Commissioners discussed these revisions in depth with SCDOT staff during the August Workshop. Specifically, the revisions include boosts to the following programs:

  • Interstate Capacity Program: Includes ARPA allocation ($453 million) and one-time FY22-23 state budget allocation for rural interstates ($133.6 million).
  • Regional Mobility Program (MPO/COGs): Increase existing program funding ($138 million) by $100 million, phasing in the increase at $25 million per year. 
  • Transportation Alternative Program (TAP): The program grew from $11 million to $33 million annually with IIJA. (This includes state matching funds.)  
  • Guardrail Program: The program increased by $5 million to accommodate market conditions, bringing the total investment to $15.75 million. 
  • Bridge Program: The IIJA included specific money for bridges through a one-time allocation. SCDOT staff assumes a continuation of funding through FY27 for a total of $228 million annually. 

View the full 10-Year Revision Presentation here

Regional Mobility Program Revisions

Commissioners approved a funding increase for the regional mobility program (MPO/COGs) for (federal) fiscal year 2023. 

A total of $188 million will be invested, with $177 million allocated based on population, and $11 million will be distributed across regions to ensure a minimum investment level of at least $5 million. You can find details of allocations here.  

This policy aligns with the 2021 policy approach and funding levels adopted in the 10-Year Plan. View the full presentation here. 

Sponsorship & Registration

FY23-24 Budget Approved

Commissioners approved the SCDOT’s proposed FY23-24 budget, which will be submitted to the Executive Budget Office and ultimately serve as the basis for all budget requests during the 2023 legislative session. 

The FY23-24 budget totals $2.685 billion, and the majority of revenues come from state sources. Approximately 89% of the funding that goes into SCDOT goes back into the system for improvements. Details on Revenues and Expenditures are linked below. View the budget presentation slides here. 

$4 Billion Construction Program 

A record amount of work is happening across the state, with $4 billion worth of active projects underway. Details on the construction program by category are detailed below:

Progress Continues on 10-Year Plan

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall provided an overview of the progress to date on the 10-Year Plan. Since the last Commission meeting in July, there has been further progress on bridges and rural road safety projects.

Secretary Hall said that SCDOT plans to add more bridge projects to the pipeline for the development process, which will position the agency to move projects more efficiently should additional funding become available in the coming year.

The map below illustrates planned timelines for the interstate program. It reflects the $453 million ARPA allocation to accelerate the widening of I-26 between Columbia and Charleston, as well as the one-time budget allocation ($133 million) for rural interstates, which will help accelerate I-95.

The map has been updated to incorporate accelerated dates for segments of I-95 and I-26, made possible by these one-time investments. 

Secretary Hall noted that the first contract award made possible by the ARPA dollars (on I-26 near Summerville, indicated as “2022” on the map) would be announced next week. 

View the Secretary’s full presentation here. 

Public Comment Period Approval

Commissioners approved a 21-day public comment period to amend the STIP to include preliminary engineering, right of way, and construction phases of work in FY23 for bridge projects identified as part of the FY21-22 Load Restricted Bridge and carried forward from the 10-year plan. Details can be found here. 

STIP Revisions

Commissioners approved revisions to the STIP to include multiple projects related to MPO/COGs. Details on those projects can be found here. 

SCDOT Freight Planning Survey 

SCDOT needs your input to update the Statewide Freight Plan! They have created an online survey that is interactive, quick, and user friendly. The survey will be available until October 10, 2022. Please complete the survey using the link below:


BEA Talks Economy, Revenues & Roads

The SC Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) met Thursday afternoon to discuss trends and economic factors influencing forecast decisions. Frank Rainwater, Executive Director of the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs (RFA) Office, told the BEA that the meeting was intended to be informational and discuss "what we see out there" and that the October meeting will be focused on an actual forecast of what they "think will happen."

Rainwater noted that revenues for FY21-22 closed out above estimates (hence the surplus revenues) and that corporate income tax was among the top performers. The revenue stream continued to accelerate through the year's close and was over $1 billion.  

Inflation continues to be the elephant in the room and is something economists continue to follow closely. Moving forward, RFA will be weighing factors impacting personal incomes (i.e., wage growth, interest rate hikes, impacts of potential recession) and consumer spending.

View the full BEA presentation here. 

The BEA also extended invitations to the SC State Ports Authority (SCSPA) and SCDOT to provide insights on their economic outlook and overall operations. The SC Chamber of Commerce also offered a perspective from the business community. 

SCSPA President & CEO Barbara Melvin provided the BEA with an overview of port activity and said that all signs remain favorable for Port growth. She noted population growth and the ability to manufacture and grow forest and agricultural products are advantageous to the Southeast and allow for twice the national port market growth (6% vs. 3%). Melvin also lauded recent investments in road and rail capacity to handle continued growth. View the SCSPA presentation here.

SCDOT Chief of Staff, Justin Powell, provided an overview of the state's transportation network, the 10-year plan, and how new dollars were being invested. Powell noted the importance of planning and establishing a robust project pipeline, which allows the agency to serve the private sector entities better as they invest in employees and equipment. Frank Rainwater reiterated that price tags on infrastructure projects weren't cheap, and growth would continue to be a challenge for the state. View the full SCDOT presentation here.

Bob Morgan, President & CEO of the SC Chamber of Commerce, reported on behalf of the business community. The SC Chamber is in the midst of a statewide grassroots tour, which Morgan said has allowed the chamber to gauge the top issues of concern. He noted that education and teacher pay were among top concerns, as well as workforce and legal reforms.

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