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State of SCDOT
The SCDOT Commission's February meeting was held on Thursday with Chairman Robby Robbins (Dist.1) presiding. The primary focus of the meeting was the presentation of the annual State of the SCDOT report.   SCDOT Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall recently gave this report to the Senate Transportation Committee, and Thursday’s presentation to the Commission was unchanged.  However, given the time constraints of the Transportation Committee meeting, she was able to provide more details in her report to the Commission on Thursday.
Hall emphasized that one of the top priorities of the 10-year plan was to address pavements and the majority of the new money in the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund (IMTF) was going towards improving pavements.  Currently, the SCDOT has $417 million invested in pavements (up from $291 million before Act 40), and that number will continue to climb each year.  At full implementation of Act 40, the SCDOT plans to have $702 million invested in pavements annually.

Secretary Hall reminded Commissioners that the state had $11 billion worth of pavement needs as a result of 30 years’ worth of backlogged maintenance.  While not every road is going to be paved, with the continued increase of investments in the coming years, Hall said she expected the public to see a dramatic increase in construction across the state.
There are 755 structurally deficient bridges and 366 load-restricted bridges in South Carolina.  Currently, the state is investing over $100 million in bridges and that number is expected to grow.  It is important to note that the additional revenues generated by Act 40 (and deposited into the IMTF) are supplementing the existing bridge program.

Hall noted that Act 98 jump-started the bridge program and since passage of Act 98, 71 bridge projects have been completed and more than 50 were under construction.

While the 10-year plan and additional funding will go towards repairing structurally deficient and load-restricted bridges, other bridges that might not be categorized as such will continue to decay over the years.  Therefore, the SCDOT will need to assess their strategy for the bridge program over time. 
SCDOT has completed over 70 miles of interstate widenings since 2017. In the next 12-18 months, another $2 billion worth of interstate work is expected to begin.  This work will be in the Midlands region, with Carolina Crossroads (Malfunction Junction) and a section of I-26.

In 2022, another $3 billion is expected to be underway, with the bulk of the projects in the Charleston region.  This includes widening for the existing 526 as well as bridge work that will need to be designed to meet future economic needs (i.e., port containers and population growth).

In addition to these widenings, the agency also continues to work on moving the rural interstate improvement program forward.  As we have previously reported, the SCDOT plans to utilize $110 million after the tax credit sunsets in 2022.  Over the next few months, SCDOT will be working to recommend ranked projects for Commission approval.  Secretary Hall said that they want to continue to move forward with preliminary work so when the money becomes available the projects can start.

Secretary Hall also noted that a lot of the interstate work that is in the pipeline is work that should have been done ten years ago, but the money just wasn’t there to do it.
Congestion Will be the Next Priority
Secretary Hall emphasized the need for any additional funding that the state receives from the federal government or otherwise would need to go to the MPO/COG program so it could be put towards non-interstate capacity needs. 

Over the past five years, South Carolina has seen a 20% increase in growth and miles traveled.  “This is not getting any better, and it will only get worse,” Hall said.

Currently, there is no funding within SCDOT to cover these needs, and while local option sales taxes help, they are certainly not enough. 
Historic Amount of Work Underway
SCDOT continues to tout that the value of road work on the streets has tripled in value. Currently there is $3 billion worth of work under contract and the number is expected to grow.  So what is that $3 billion going towards?  Here’s a closer look at the allocations based on types of projects/programs.
Changes to the STIP
The Commission approved changes to the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) which included ten bridge projects across the state.  SCDOT will be using surface transportation block grants to fund these projects.  Details can be found here.
January Lettings
16 projects totaling $101+ million
$87 million to pavements
$14.6 million to CTCs/other work
Financial Update
Scott Ludlam, SCDOT Director of Budgets and Planning, provided the financial update. According to Ludlam, state revenues are running as anticipated and 82% of expenditures go towards maintenance/preservation and capacity/operational improvements.  He also provided an accounts payable analysis and noted that 94% of all invoices were paid within 30 days. 

The full financial report can be found here.
JBRC Action on 526 Delayed, Subcommittee to Review
The Joint Bond Review Committee (JBRC) met Wednesday morning to address the I-526 extension project. The project was the first item on the agenda and JBRC Chairman, Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) opened the meeting by saying that the matter needed to be reviewed by a subcommittee.

There was little discussion, and the members of the subcommittee were appointed:

Senator Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee) – Chairman
Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley)
Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York)
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston)

Rep. Leon Stavrinkais told the Post and Courier that he didn’t see the delay as a setback.

"We would like to have just approved it today, but... doing due diligence is not something that anyone should be complaining about,” Stavrinakis said. “I know it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for me, too. I’ve been dealing with this for 20 years. So, we want to get it moving, but it’s a large commitment for everybody.”

The subcommittee will be tasked with reviewing the contract before it is brought to the JBRC for a full review. A copy of the contract/intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the project can be found here.
Tweaks Sought for Utility Relocation Bill 
The Education & Public Works Transportation subcommittee chaired by Rep. Tommy Stringer (R-Greenville) took up utility relocation legislation (H.3799) on Tuesday. Under the proposed bill, water and sewer utilities would be classified as large or small, and reimbursements of costs by SCDOT would be based on the respective classification.  The bill is the result of years of negotiations between interested parties and reflects the same language of the bill that was passed by the Senate last year. 

Subcommittee members heard testimony from several parties including representatives from the SC Rural Water Association, SC Waterworks Association, Municipal Association of SC, City of Columbia, and the SCDOT.  Each of the parties was supportive of the bill and anticipated that the adoption would result in the reduction of costs and help reduce delays associated with relocation. However, the subcommittee ultimately carried the bill over at the request of SCDOT and utility interests so they could work on an amendment to address a potential sunset or to provide a system of checks and balances to ensure that the language works as prescribed.

It expected that the bill, along with the amendment, will be back up in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
SC House 14 Primary Winners
A primary election was held Tuesday to determine the Republican and Democratic candidates for April's special election to fill the vacant House District 14 seat.  The seat was vacated after Rep. Mike Pitts retired in December.

Stewart Jones defeated three opponents winning the Republican Primary with 52% of the vote.  Garrett McDaniel defeated one opponent to win the Democratic Primary with 92% of the vote.

Jones and McDaniel will face off in the Special Election on April 23.

District 14 covers Greenwood and Laurens counties.
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