By VICKI BROWN
The Transportation Commission of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has approved the new 2021-2022 paving program plan for the state.
The project, which includes upgrades to Colleton County roads, was approved by the transportation commission during its recent May 20th meeting.
The approved paving program will result in nearly 1,000 more miles of the state’s roads being rehabilitated and resurfaced during the coming two years.
The paving program will be funded by an estimated $642 million of revenues from the state gas tax, which will increase an additional two cents effective July 1, 2021.
The state gas tax increase enacted in 2017 is being phased in two cents per year for six years through 2022.
“Thanks to the foresight of the General Assembly in creating sustainable additional funding, this year’s paving plan is the largest annual program in state history and will result in SCDOT having repaved more than 5,000 miles of roads across the state during a five-year period,” said J. Barnwell Fishburne, chairman of the Transportation Commission. Fishburne is from Colleton County and sits on the statewide commission.
The projects recommended for the proposed 2021-2022 Pavement Improvement Program were selected utilizing ranking processes that are based on objective and quantifiable road condition factors; comply with the Ten-Year Plan for rebuilding South Carolina’s roads; and support the performance targets established in the Commission-approved Transportation Asset Management Plan (TAMP).
The project selection process also ensures a county-by-county distribution of paving funds so that roads in every county of the state in greatest need of repair are repaved.
Road improvements in Colleton County are included in the plan. The following areas and ranked according to priority: Confederate Highway for reconstruction; Augusta Highway for reconstruction; Round O Road for reconstruction; Mt. Carmel Road for reconstruction; Third Street for rehabilitation; Fifth Street for rehabilitation; Seventh Street for rehabilitation; Pulis Street for rehabilitation; Jasmine Drive for rehabilitation; Bay Street for rehabilitation; McDaniel Town Road for reconstruction; and Catholic Hill Circle for rehabilitation.
The miles being scheduled for new pavement include larger primary routes, which carry the most traffic, as well as secondary, or farm-to-market, roads and neighborhood streets. Some interstate paving is also included in the $642 million plan. SCDOT has prioritized the paving projects in the same manner it ranks all of its projects, based on safety and crash data, the condition and age of roads and bridges, and traffic information.
The SCDOT requests comments from the public on the proposed 2021-22 Pavement Improvement Program. The public has the opportunity to comment on the recommended ranked pavement improvement project lists for the rehabilitation and reconstruction. SCDOT will receive public comment for a 21-day period from May 24, 2021 through June 16, 2021.
Upon completion of the 21-day public comment period, any substantive comments will be provided to the commission.
“We are committed to full transparency in how we select and construct projects,” said Transportation Secretary Christy Hall. “We encourage citizens to provide comments during the paving program’s Public Comment period, which will begin in a few days. We are putting the state gas tax and other funds to work for South Carolinians.”
Since 2017, more than $1.3 billion from the New Gas Tax Trust Fund has been allocated to new paving projects across the state. The addition of this year’s $642 million of paving will result in nearly $2 billion of paving projects in a five-year period, a record for the agency.
In total, the state gas tax, vehicle sales tax and other fees, and federal funding sources have enabled SCDOT to triple its work program to a historic $3.2 billion.
A comparative list of the county-by-county paving projects in the new program for 2021-2022 can be found on SCDOT’s website at scdot.org.