RIDGEVILLE S.C. (WCBD) – Governor Henry McMaster and state transportation officials began the improvements of a seven mile long stretch of Interstate 26 on Tuesday in Berkeley County.

The estimated completion date for the entire project is 2034.

“This project is ahead of schedule,” said Governor Henry McMaster. “This is a state where we believe in business.”

The stretch will transform the now four lane highway into six lanes from Jedburg Road to SC Highway 27 and expand the Cypress Swamp Bridge to six lanes.

“It’s designed to help alleviate traffic flow and help support the growth in this fast-growing region of our state,” said Christy Hall, the Secretary of Transportation for the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT).

The safety of drivers and easing of traffic for truckers are other reasons for the expansion.

“Teamwork really does make the dream work and this is a great example of collaboration at all levels to deliver something meaningful to the people of South Carolina,” said Secretary Hall.

“Fix I-26 has been the cry for years. This route is literally the central nervous system for the state of South Carolina,” said Rick Todd, the CEO of the South Carolina Trucking Association.

Gov. McMaster announced a proposal in September 2021 to use $360 million from the American Rescue Plan to speed up the widening of I-26 between Charleston and the state capitol. The project is also being funded by taxpayer money.

State transportation officials said traffic has increased nearly 30% on I-26 between Columbia and Charleston in the last decade. 22 million drivers travel on the I-26 every year according to SCDOT.

Secretary Hall also says that the materials used for the construction will be sourced from South Carolina.