ANOTHER HIGHWAY BOONDOGGLE DRAWS IRE OF COMMUNITIES, TAXPAYERS
It turns out Interstate 73 isn’t the only costly, unnecessary transportation project that’s getting the green light from state government – and grief from taxpayers.
The last chuck of funding for a planned $556 million expansion of Interstate 526 in Charleston, S.C. was approved last week by the state’s infrastructure bank – on a secret vote that was held without public notice. After news of this vote leaked, however, the board of the infrastructure bank reconvened via conference call twenty four hours later for a “public” vote on the funding.
Pushing the project? S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell and State Rep. Chip Limehouse – two of the biggest fiscal liberals in state government.
This planned expansion – which would reduce travel time for some Charleston area residents by roughly half a minute – is being strenuously opposed by a politically active group of local residents.
This group – led by James Island resident Robin Welch – is planning protests in response to the board’s decisions. In fact we’re told that they may be planning to protest Harrell’s Charleston office this week in response to the controversial appropriation.
“(Thirty-six) seconds is not worth $556 million in taxpayer money, nor is it worth harming the homes of 780 families,” the group says on its Facebook page.
We haven’t had a chance yet to wrap our brains around the specifics of the proposed Interstate 526 expansion, but we can say that South Carolina’s track record of prioritizing its highway dollars is downright abysmal. And while Interstate 73 is the poster child for this mismanagement – there are deeply rooted problems at the S.C. Department of Transportation that extend far beyond that boondoggle.
These problems – exacerbated under the reign of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – have resulted a halt on paving and maintenance work on existing roads while the state’s scarce borrowing capacity is exhausted on totally unnecessary projects pushed by powerful political interests.
Does that make sense?
Of course not …
Anyway … we look forward to hearing from both sides regarding the Interstate 526 debate in the months to come, but based on what we know about South Carolina’s “stewardship” of its highway dollars this certainly looks like more of the same costly and unnecessary nonsense.