CHARLESTON, S.C. (WBCD) – Charleston-area leaders met with South Carolina Department of Transportation officials on Monday to discuss how much money the recently-enacted gas tax and road funding plan is generating for the region.Following a “fix-it-first” approach, South Carolina Transportation Secretary Christy Hall laid out four infrastructure priorities for the state, including safety, pavement projects, road and interstate widening plans and funds for new bridges. Hall is traveling the state, and met with the Charleston Area Transportation Study (CHATS) Policy Committee at a meeting focused on alleviating bottleneck traffic and taking a closer look at the major infrastructure needs. Government leaders from Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Country attended the meeting.“We’re blessed to be a prosperous state, but that comes with some issues in regards to people moving to the area and businesses booming, movement of freight and goods all across the state,” said Hall. “All that adds to congestion on our roadways. It’s an issue that we’ve had for a very long time and we’re certainly not going to be able to solve it overnight.”On July 1, the state’s gas tax went up for the first time in about 30 years to boost funding for road and infrastructure improvements in South Carolina. The revenue generated by the law, which also raised vehicle registration costs and some other other fees, is expected to provide $11 billion to pave roads in the Tricounty region over a 10-year period.Overall, Hall said South Carolina’s road system is struggling and the new money will help with past due projects, including interstates that need additional lanes and bridges that are structurally deficient and need repair. The gas tax gradually will go up two cents a year, capping at 28 cents a gallon by 2022, This is is expected to raise about $600 million a year for initiatives to help the state’s dilapidated road system.“This is a jump start and the new money will basically help continue projects and others as we move forward,” said Hall.Hall said she expects over the next 10 years that 1,000 miles of rural roads will see safety upgrades, 140 miles of the interstates in the Tricounty region will improve, and the area will see 465 new bridges in addition to fixing existing ones.
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