COLLETON COUNTY, SC – Are you willing to pay for the privilege of driving on Interstate 95? The South Carolina Department of Transportation just finished a study about turning the highway into a toll road.
The study looks at everything including how much it would cost to build the tollbooth and how long it would take the state to complete the project. The department was tasked to research funding options for I-95 improvements as part of a request from lawmakers.
The stretch of I-95 in South Carolina is 199 miles long and connects the state to Georgia and North Carolina. But compared to the interstate in other states drivers say the stretch of interstate in South Carolina needs work.
Roxanna Powell travels I-95 from Florida to Maryland at least 4 times a year. “The construction and the quality of the road is absolutely terrible. and we definitely need more lanes,” said Powell.
Duke Cole also uses the interstate for travel, taking the road from Florida to New York. Cole agreed the road could use more lanes. “It’s not too bad. I noticed it’s two lanes here. It would be better if they add one more lane to move traffic along.”
SCDOT completed the study to find options for funding including implementing a toll.
Dorothy Gamble lives in the area where one of the proposed toll booths would be. ” I don’t feel too good about that. “
The interstate would be divided into 4 points where a toll of $1-$3 would be charged to cross a bridge. The larger the bridge, the more you’d pay. For example, it would cost a driver $3 to go over the proposed bridge over Lake Marion near Santee.
The study says the state would have to spend $500 million to install the toll bridges at the 4 locations. The money generated would be used to pay to widen the road then overall upgrades.
Cole, who is used to paying for tolls, said he’s not opposed to the idea. “If it’s reasonable I don’t mind paying tolls someone’s got to pay for the roads right.”
But not everyone agrees.
“That’s not the solution. it’s definitely not,” said Roxanna Powell.
According to the study, it would take the state 35 years to generate the money to pay for the project. The estimated total cost is $3.5 billion.
Right now there are only 2 toll roads in the state; in Greenville County and on Hilton Head Island.
South Carolina law allows for the implementation of tolls as part of the funding for new highway construction. The General Assembly would have to pass a law that would allow the state to do so for existing interstates.