CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston County Council will move forward with negotiating terms of a new contract for the I-526 completion project following a State Infrastructure Bank board meeting Tuesday.
By a vote of six to two, Charleston County passed a motion to allow council members Elliott Summey and Brantley Moody to represent the county and negotiate with SIB and the South Carolina Department of Transportation for a new Intergovernmental Agreement for the I-526 completion project, also known as, the Mark Clark Expressway.
This comes after SIB voted on moving forward with negotiations for the I-526 completion project Tuesday. By a vote of 5 to 2, SIB agreed to put forth $420 million toward the project. Read more here.
“Today we witnessed true executive leadership in South Carolina,” councilman Summey said.
Summey along with a few other council members believe negotiations for for the completion of 526 being back on the table is a win for Charleston County.
“This is a big win for the people of Johns Island,” councilwoman Anna Johnson said. Johnson represents Johns Island and believes residents need this project completed.
Although, some council members think it’s a bad move.
“I am just appalled that we are willing to pay that much more money for something we weren’t supposed to even pay for,” councilman Dickie Schweers said.
Charleston County has agreed to pay all overruns for the project, which is estimated at $305 million, it could be more or it could be less. At the moment, council can not pinpoint exactly where the money will come from, but they have ideas.
“We could use the sales tax, we could use bonds, federal guide chairs, or even a toll road,” Council Council Chairman, A. Victor Rawl said.
Regardless, council says taxpayers will have to pay up.
“Taxpayers are going to pay it’s just a matter of what pocket you’d have to pay out of,” Rawl said. “It could be federal pocket, the state pocket, the county pocket, the city pocket or your pocket if it’s a toll, ain’t no questions about that.”
Until negotiations are complete, and a final price tag is placed on the project, officials say they will not know exactly where each dollar will come from.
Moving forward, the county, SIB, and SCDOT have 45 days to finalize the new terms of their amended IGA agreement. As for the completion of the 526 completion project, council says that may take another eight to 10 years.