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Construction Program Continues Upward Trend
Thanks to the passage of road funding legislation in recent years, South Carolina has seen a significant boost in the amount of work that is out on the streets. The construction program continues to grow and more than $734 million in contracts have been awarded in the current fiscal year. 

Currently, there is $3.3 billion worth of work going on across the state (up from $3.2B last month). Of that work, $1.5 billion has been paid out for completed projects (up from $1.4B last month). This data is proof that contracts continue to roll out and progress is being made.  A breakdown of the construction program by category can be found here. 
April Highway Lettings
13 Projects were awarded, totaling over $28 million.
Click here for details.

April Professional Service Contracts
15 Contracts were awarded, totaling over $10 million.
Click here for details. 
SCDOT Financial Report
State revenues continue to increase, up to $43 million thanks to Act 275 revenues (SCDMV fees) and the infrastructure maintenance fee (car sales tax) trending ahead of schedule.  Of note, fuel tax revenues reflect a 2% decrease in gasoline and a 3% increase in diesel.  Full details on revenue components can be found here.

Expenditures are running behind schedule; however, SCDOT says this is mostly attributed to factors such as the weather (rainy season) and the timing of payments.
Where’s the New Money Going?
State law requires that the new revenues generated from the 2017 road funding plan be deposited into the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund (IMTF).  The most recent statement can be viewed here.

Since the passage of Act 40 in 2017, over $615 million has been deposited into the IMTF. Of that $615 million, $172 million comes from the fuel tax increase. Currently, the most significant source of revenue in the IMTF comes from the infrastructure maintenance fee; however, that is likely to shift as the additional pennies are phased in on fuel.  

Since 2017, $148 million has been paid out for work completed, increases to the County Transportation Committees (CTCs), and to cover the preventative maintenance tax credit included in Act 40.  

It is clear that all of the money is going directly towards what it is intended to be used for – fixing roads and bridges. The only diversion is one that goes back in the pockets of SC taxpayers. 

At this point, it is hard to argue that the money is not going where it is supposed to go. Of course, that won’t stop some groups from trying.   

More than $1 billion in project commitments have been made to improve over 3,000 miles of roads in ALL 46 counties with these new revenues. 
Proposed Updates to the Public Participation Plan
The SCDOT Commission approved a 45-day public comment period for proposed updates to the Public Participation Plan (PPP) which serves as the basis for the agency’s public outreach process for the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) and the Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan (MTP).

The proposed updates include three major changes that are aimed to increase public participation in the planning process, including the use of survey software that will allow the agency to gather input online through a user-friendly approach.   

Brent Rewis, SCDOT Director of Planning, said that the use of technology continues to grow and many state DOTs have seen success with pushing public input measures through social media and other means. He added that it is easier to get the public to comment on projects, but it was difficult to get people to provide input on planning.  

All public comments will be presented to the SCDOT Commission for consideration.  Click here to view the proposed updates to the plan.  
Budget Conferees Begin Deliberations
The Budget Conference Committee co-chaired by Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), and Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) met this week to begin negotiations on the FY19-20 budget bill (H.4000).

The conference committee met briefly on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  They plan to meet again this afternoon to discuss progress on their deliberations and hopefully announce that they have reached an agreement. 

As we have previously reported, the budget includes provisions that would require SCDOT to begin the process of implementing tolls on I-95.  One proviso explicitly instructs the agency to implement tolls on I-95. (Something like this really can’t be done with a budget proviso.)  However, the second proviso requires the agency to begin implementing recommendations included in the I-95 toll study and instructs SCDOT to report back to the General Assembly in March 2020 on the feasibility of tolling and/or other funding options that could be used for improvements.  

It is unlikely that the House conferees will support inclusion of either of the provisos.  However, given deliberations are still underway, anything can happen. With the legislature slated to return Monday to take up conference committee reports and vetoes, the clock is ticking.  Stay tuned…
Budget Conference Committee Members
Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter)
Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York)
Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland)
Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence)
Senator Darrell Jackson (D-Richland)
Senator Sean Bennett (R-Dorchester)
Positive Press:  Road Funding Increases Demand for Workforce
Workforce development continues to be a priority for many industries as the need for skilled workers across the state continues to rise.  

This week, our friends at the SC Asphalt Pavement Association (SCAPA) received some positive press on their workforce development campaign and the increased demand for asphalt workers thanks to the passage of the road funding bill. 

To date, the state’s asphalt industry has 350 jobs open that companies are looking to fill, and the paving industry anticipates more than 1,000 jobs will be created over the next five years.  Click here to read the full article. 
2018 - 2019 Newsletter Archive
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