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It looks earlier this week, Charleston County Council voted to nix the I-526 extension. One reason is because the amount that the state infrastructure bank pledged to go towards the project isn't enough. And although nothing says that this is happening as a result (which it very well could be), two days later, state Transportation Commission on Thursday voted to seek about $388 million in bond money to pay for five major road projects across the state, including the Midlands’ long-delayed airport connector to I-26, known as the John Hardee Expressway.

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There is a great editorial in the Post & Courier about the need for South Carolina to increase its gas tax. Because South Carolina has one of the largest state-maintained road networks in the nation (it used to be ranked 4th largest, not sure if that's still true), and because the gas tax has not been adjusted since 1987, there are and will continue to be insufficient funds for road construction and maintenance. Adjusting the tax rate is one way to raise revenues and improve the system state-wide.

 

In my opinion, the gas tax works well enough today. The biggest challenge is that due to federal requirements on car companies to improve their fleets' fuel economies, the amount of tax revenue is not keeping up with actual miles traveled (ie: actual wear and tear on the road system). Eventually this challenge will have to be addressed too, though likely at a national level.

 

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130107/PC1002/130109543/1021/-users-pay-raise-gas-tax

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The State may be changing how it deals with roads. Currently, almost every road in the state is owned and maintained by SCDOT. The change would allow more streets to be diverted to counties (and presumably cities). This is a potentially positive change because it would allow more local governments to control decisions about how their roads are designed. So, instead of designing all streets like major highways, more options become available like providing narrower travel lanes (which help slow traffic), wider sidewalks, street trees, etc.

 

http://www.goupstate.com/article/20141203/WIRE/141209876/1083/ARTICLES?Title=Latest-SC-road-bill-would-add-interstate-lanes

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It's a good idea in theory, and the benefits for street design are clear.  However, I agree with Spartanburg County leaders that the State can't be trusted to provide sufficient funds to the counties to maintain the roads if they take them over. (The State has continuously cut the amount of money it gives to counties through the local government fund.)  This would force counties to take the inevitable political hit to raise taxes to fund roads, and it would also lead to worse road conditions in less populous counties with a smaller tax base.

 

In the end, it comes down to there not being nearly enough money to maintain our roads.  Raising the gas tax (and indexing it to inflation) should be the first step.  It has the dual benefit of being essentially a usage fee (it's fair) and visitors who use our roads would also pay it (taking some of the burden off SC residents).  We're so far behind on maintenance that we'll need other funding sources as well, but the gas tax is the best place to start.  (Oh, and eliminate the sales tax cap on vehicles.)

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This was a MAJOR topic before the tax hike happened....now it has faded. What are your thoughts? Are the roads improving? Are the priorities getting taken care of? What big projects do you think SC needs to make sure happen? For me...widen 26 from 95 into charleston so it is all 3 lanes minium, widen 85 from NC to GA to 3 lanes minimum, widen 95 at key points for 15-20 mile increments to three lanes to allow for faster passage (and slowly connecting them all together), and finally making sure all the intersection junctions are working to the best of their ability (385-85 is almost done, 26/20 is next). 

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3 hours ago, sptgguy said:

This was a MAJOR topic before the tax hike happened....now it has faded. What are your thoughts? Are the roads improving? Are the priorities getting taken care of? What big projects do you think SC needs to make sure happen? For me...widen 26 from 95 into charleston so it is all 3 lanes minium, widen 85 from NC to GA to 3 lanes minimum, widen 95 at key points for 15-20 mile increments to three lanes to allow for faster passage (and slowly connecting them all together), and finally making sure all the intersection junctions are working to the best of their ability (385-85 is almost done, 26/20 is next). 

It did not fade....we (SC taxpayers) were screwed. Agree with projects you advise...believe serious attention should be for repairs & paving as state & secondary roads are horrible. They've never been this bad and many are crumbling down to the core....will take years to repair and many $millions.  Sadly, good old boy politics is a big problem....welcome to SC, the home of bad roads.

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The sad truth is there is about 30 years worth of catch up to do. It's going to be a LONG time before the entire road system is even in remotely good condition. Like 10-15 years minimum. And that's only with resurfacing what's there - it will take longer to reduce/remove safety hazards on rural roads (which are a huge issue) and work to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in cities and towns.

 

Carolinians have to live with the fact that the SC republican party has been in control of all branches of state government since the 90s. So for over 20 years politicians  have prided themselves on screwing over state employees with low wages and constantly reducing the total number of employees - both of which affect talent retention. So the result is you have fewer public employees than in the 1980s  (the population has roughly doubled since then) on top of 20+ years of underfunding, then inability to hire talented people who can help fix the problem.... and now the solution seem to just be throw more money at it and expect things to get better over night? 

 

I think more funding is absolutely needed and raising taxes is a good way to do it. But you also have to look at HR type things and finding ways to hire and retain talent (hire more people and pay them more). There are lots of people who love to work for the government as civil engineers and planners... just not in South Carolina. I know the idea of "expanding government" even if it results in better public service in an anathema to Republicans, so I'm not optimistic about things improving, But I do think the roads will get repaved eventually.

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1 hour ago, Spartan said:

The sad truth is there is about 30 years worth of catch up to do. It's going to be a LONG time before the entire road system is even in remotely good condition. Like 10-15 years minimum. And that's only with resurfacing what's there - it will take longer to reduce/remove safety hazards on rural roads (which are a huge issue) and work to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in cities and towns.

 

Carolinians have to live with the fact that the SC republican party has been in control of all branches of state government since the 90s. So for over 20 years politicians  have prided themselves on screwing over state employees with low wages and constantly reducing the total number of employees - both of which affect talent retention. So the result is you have fewer public employees than in the 1980s  (the population has roughly doubled since then) on top of 20+ years of underfunding, then inability to hire talented people who can help fix the problem.... and now the solution seem to just be throw more money at it and expect things to get better over night? 

 

I think more funding is absolutely needed and raising taxes is a good way to do it. But you also have to look at HR type things and finding ways to hire and retain talent (hire more people and pay them more). There are lots of people who love to work for the government as civil engineers and planners... just not in South Carolina. I know the idea of "expanding government" even if it results in better public service in an anathema to Republicans, so I'm not optimistic about things improving, But I do think the roads will get repaved eventually.

Blaming republicans directly and in particular for bad roads.....that's a good one. 

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Blaming Republicans is not a solution. I can tell you right now that DC government  is even more lopsided than South Carolina (in the other direction), and the roads are probably worse. However, the number of employees are sky high and that hasn’t fixed it. 

I think we can agree that one party rule leaves no one accountable. And thus, you get crap in all capacities. 

Edited by GvilleSC

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Spartan,

I think your first paragraph is right on. 

I would agree that, in general, state employees have not been taken care of. I have worked two state jobs in the past and both agencies were terribly overworked and underpaid, and I supported improved working conditions and pay in both.  However, that particular issue does not seem to be party specific in my opinion.  Most states expereince similar problems, including very liberal ones like California (in fact, some of those states have it worse).  In my opinion, there are too many other issues that factor more into problems than just pointing the finger at republicans because they have had recent control.  The state being resposible for too many programs in general, many state agnecies being charged with providing services outside of their nitch (or even ones they were never supposed to provide at all), the tendancy of some people in the general population to abuse state programs, and the waste and poor money management of many programs are a few. With the DOT specifically, we've been told for years there has been significant waste and mismanagement (as well as pet projects) within the department. As a conservative, I have always said I don't have a problem inceasing the gas tax for road improvments IF we first get a full independant audit to make sure we know where all the current money is going and that it's being used correctly, IF we develop a better system of allocation that prioritizes projects on true need (including for more rural areas) , IF we work to repair and correct existing roads first (in general, as obviously major projects like I85/385 and I26/20 are priorities), IF we start to be more proactive with planning, instead of waiting and putting bandaids or "playing catch up," and IF we are holding construction companies accountable for projects (quality and time, etc), and other common sense steps like these that we seem to omit. If we do these type things, and still find the money we have is not enough (and it may very well not be), then I would be ok giving more in taxes for it. This is really one of the tenets of conservatism; responsible spending (not no spending, as some think).  

Edited by distortedlogic
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I knew if I tossed the question out, ya'll would not dissapoint.  While I am a liberal leaning moderate, I am at the point of saying that we are beyond the point of pointing fingers and balme with the whole road situation in the state. It is just time the government steps up and fixes the issue, which it has created. There is more road work happneing in this state at this point than I have probably seen in my whole life to be honnest but I know we are still just at the bandaid and triage point still.  I am on board with an audit as well...but I don't think any surprises will be found if and when one is performed other than the certain members of our state government have way too many state contracts linked to their own personal buisnesses and may have had a bit of a role in steering them that way. 

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I don’t think it is unfair to blame SC Republicans for the state of SC roads.  They have been in power for decades and the roads are terrible...they are a big part of the problem.  As Gvillesc said, it is partly due to the state not being competitive politically.  Electing people like Lee Bright is not good for the state of SC....glad he lost his most recent contest.   The first solution to helping is more money.  The state has neglected roads too long which requires a lot of cash now to catch up......malfunction junction will be a $1.5b ish project to correct years of poor design and neglect.  I would not build a new interstate in SC until the existing interstates are almost all 3 lanes each direction and bridges are fixed.  The roads are better in NC.  However, state politics has left many roads like I77 between SC and downtown Charlotte way over capacity.  Eastern NC has benefitted greatly from NC politics.

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Part of the magic in NC is the requierment that an equal amount of funding be directed to urban and rural areas. My parents live in rural eastern NC...and you are right, they have benefited GREATLY from this set up. They have some of the most oddly overbuilt and underused intersections I have ever seen which would indicate their system is not quite perfect...but may be better than ours.  I think another area that SC needs to address is basic road safety improvements (reflectors, ribbing on the side of rural roads, more barriers where there are drop offs and sharp curves, and GENERAL ROAD SIDE LAWNCARE/trash pickup. Nothing like having to pull over and realizing there is a drop off or washing machine right where you are trying to stop because of an emergency)

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I had not heard a thing about it, but the state gave everybody a $50 per person/couple tax refund because of the windfall from the Mega Lottery winner. 

It would have made a lot more sense to use that $90 million or whatever it was on the interstates. 

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21 hours ago, vicupstate said:

I had not heard a thing about it, but the state gave everybody a $50 per person/couple tax refund because of the windfall from the Mega Lottery winner. 

It would have made a lot more sense to use that $90 million or whatever it was on the interstates. 

This is a great example of dumb politicians in SC.  If the state properly funded universities and roads, then a rebate would be nice.   

But, people in SC do elect these idiots, so they see it and an endorsement.  

23 hours ago, sptgguy said:

Part of the magic in NC is the requierment that an equal amount of funding be directed to urban and rural areas. My parents live in rural eastern NC...and you are right, they have benefited GREATLY from this set up. They have some of the most oddly overbuilt and underused intersections I have ever seen which would indicate their system is not quite perfect...but may be better than ours.  I think another area that SC needs to address is basic road safety improvements (reflectors, ribbing on the side of rural roads, more barriers where there are drop offs and sharp curves, and GENERAL ROAD SIDE LAWNCARE/trash pickup. Nothing like having to pull over and realizing there is a drop off or washing machine right where you are trying to stop because of an emergency)

Eastern NC does have some nice roads.  540 in Raleigh is really nice and actually has lights.  

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On 11/15/2019 at 10:37 PM, GvilleSC said:

Blaming Republicans is not a solution. I can tell you right now that DC government  is even more lopsided than South Carolina (in the other direction), and the roads are probably worse. However, the number of employees are sky high and that hasn’t fixed it. 

I think we can agree that one party rule leaves no one accountable. And thus, you get crap in all capacities. 

 

I agree that blaming republicans is not a solution. But it IS an explanation. In order to address the problem you have to understand the many variables that created it. It's not strictly a lack of employees, it's not JUST that they are underpaid, it's not that the gas tax wasn't raised for over 30 years, and it's not ONLY that the funding hasn't been a priority, it's not only that SCDOT has had leadership problems.... but it is absolutely worth looking at how these things came to be. The decay of the road system is an issue for the state. As a whole, and I think that in this case SC leaders have failed repeatedly over the past couple of decades, and they should be blamed.

 

A good politician, IMO, should support a well-functioning government. To that end, credit should be given to them for finally raising the gas tax to fund road improvements - but I stand by my initial criticism.

 

 

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Saw this posted by SC Livable Communities Alliance today: SCDOT is updating their Highway Design Manual, and will increase the number of "context zones" from 2 to 5.  The five context classes will be: Rural, Rural Town, Suburban, Urban, and Urban Core.  This should help better accommodate different land uses and non-motorized safety needs, while integrating local needs with state owned street design.  Certainly good news!

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Wow, that's huge!! Maybe not the forward thinking type of context sensitive design approach, but that's something you can work with. Hopefully with all of the new funding they've received from the gas tax we will be able to see some of this hit the ground fairly soon (2-3 years).

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I'm in a soapbox mood...became dismayed with the appearance of I-385 South from Greenville to Clinton yesterday.  Sorry this pic is not clearer as I snapped it while driving.  It indicates how poorly the medians are being maintained....there's been no grass cutting in months and some grass was as tall as an auto.  Are things so bad that mowing has ceased? There were also pieces of tires and other auto  debris scattered along the side of the road....disgusting.     

IMG_5376[987].jpeg

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Cool video here about some historical hwy issues. Very interesting to see the historical perspective and old video! When this was made, there were only 850k registered cars on SC roads. It also notes that in 1920 (100 years ago ) there were only 26 miles of paved road is SC! Give it a look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nJUlt8kur8

Edited by distortedlogic

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Meant to post this when it happened a few weeks ago: SCDOT has officially adopted a "complete streets" policy!

SCDOT press release here; Palmetto Cycling Coalition article here

The Policy requires the consideration of accommodations for bicycling, walking, and transit in the design, construction, maintenance, and operations of the state transportation network.

Key components of the Policy include:

  • Funding for these accommodations is to be included in the budget for each project if warranted on the individual project and in accordance with the regional plans.
  • SCDOT will update and modernize its design manuals to include multimodal accommodations.
  • SCDOT will establish a council to facilitate ongoing communication to seek continuous improvement opportunities and initiatives.

Definitely another positive step forward!

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2 hours ago, westsider28 said:

Meant to post this when it happened a few weeks ago: SCDOT has officially adopted a "complete streets" policy!

SCDOT press release here; Palmetto Cycling Coalition article here

The Policy requires the consideration of accommodations for bicycling, walking, and transit in the design, construction, maintenance, and operations of the state transportation network.

Key components of the Policy include:

  • Funding for these accommodations is to be included in the budget for each project if warranted on the individual project and in accordance with the regional plans.
  • SCDOT will update and modernize its design manuals to include multimodal accommodations.
  • SCDOT will establish a council to facilitate ongoing communication to seek continuous improvement opportunities and initiatives.

Definitely another positive step forward!

This is good....so when does SCDOT begin paving  MANY roads that need it BADLY?  It's getting  tiresome  dodging potholes & driving crappy (state) roads all over the state.

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7 hours ago, cabelagent said:

This is good....so when does SCDOT begin paving  MANY roads that need it BADLY?  It's getting  tiresome  dodging potholes & driving crappy (state) roads all over the state.

I mean, decades of deferred maintenance takes a while to fix. 

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Drove up I-85 towards NC from Greenville today...have not driven it in a while.  There's a noticeable amount of work that's been done for widening project above Spartanburg to the state line, but there remains a LOT to be done. I'd estimate completion in mid-2023...meanwhile, let's see how high the death toll reaches as no one follows the speed limit (60) at all! 

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On 2/17/2021 at 12:19 PM, westsider28 said:

Meant to post this when it happened a few weeks ago: SCDOT has officially adopted a "complete streets" policy!

SCDOT press release here; Palmetto Cycling Coalition article here

The Policy requires the consideration of accommodations for bicycling, walking, and transit in the design, construction, maintenance, and operations of the state transportation network.

Key components of the Policy include:

  • Funding for these accommodations is to be included in the budget for each project if warranted on the individual project and in accordance with the regional plans.
  • SCDOT will update and modernize its design manuals to include multimodal accommodations.
  • SCDOT will establish a council to facilitate ongoing communication to seek continuous improvement opportunities and initiatives.

Definitely another positive step forward!

 

I read somewhere that also stipulates that they have to work with local communities to design streets based on local needs and conditions. This is a major step forward and will be transformative in the long run.  

 

 

On 2/17/2021 at 3:27 PM, cabelagent said:

This is good....so when does SCDOT begin paving  MANY roads that need it BADLY?  It's getting  tiresome  dodging potholes & driving crappy (state) roads all over the state.

They have already started. You can see the resurfacing plans on their website.  https://www.scdot.org/business/pdf/tentativeLetting/Rehab_Resurface.pdf

You can also see the condition of the roads on this map. It's going to take a LONG time to get caught up. 3 decades of deferred maintenance will definitely do that for you. The other component is that some roads will be redesigned and rebuilt. That process takes longer (5+ years), depending on the size of the project. So it may take a while before we start seeing major improvements.

https://scdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MinimalGallery/index.html?appid=de87f3f11994456ca871b20dfb0070be#viewer=c49faa06e0904f9fa1b4b1ce78266a2c

 

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