Gov. McMaster requests $5 billion in federal funding for infrastructure
Potholes fill the streets throughout Columbia. This stretch at Moss Avenue and Kilbourne Road is just one of many examples of the roads Gov. McMaser is seeking funding to repair.
Gov. McMaster requested $5 billion from President Donald Trump to improve the state's infrastructure. Gov. McMaster plans to spend $500 million to improve 2,000 miles of South Carolina's most deadly roads.
Gov. McMaster's request for federal aid will allot $2 billion towards paving and repairing South Carolina's interstate systems and primary roads. This area, the corner of Hemlock Road and Bluff Road, is already being worked on by the highway department.
By Lindsey Hodges and Jeffrey Griffin
The metal plates and potholes that are scattered across Columbia’s roadways are more than eyesores; they’re costing drivers more than $1,000 in yearly vehicle repairs.
Just two weeks after being sworn in as South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster has his mind on the state’s deficient roads and is asking President Trump for help. Meanwhile, the South Carolina legislature is moving forward on a gas tax that will help fix roads.
This week, McMaster sent a letter to Trump, proposing that $5 billion in federal dollars be allocated for South Carolina to repair its roads and bridges. The letter embraced the hardships South Carolina has faced in the past years.
McMaster wrote: “Through years of enduring storms, floods, breached dams, hurricanes, the recession, counter-productive federal policies and other factors, we have become adept at attempting to manage scarcity.”
McMaster’s letter is in response to Trumps plans to improve the nation’s infrastructure.
The letter also asked for $180 million for the Charleston 52 Harbor Deepening Project, which will make Charleston the deepest harbor on the east coast. McMaster personalized the letter to President Trump by writing that he and his wife “hope to see you and yours again soon.”
Roads are vital to South Carolina’s infrastructure. Drivers in Columbia are losing $1,250 per year due to damaged roads, according to a study released in 2015 by TRIP, a national transportation research group. This dollar amount comes from the need for drivers to repair their vehicles, fuel costs from traffic jams and costs from crashes.
According to the same TRIP report, 46 percent of South Carolina’s roads are inadequate.
At the same time that McMaster asked for the allocation, a proposed gas tax hike is winding its way through the S.C. Legislature. It has cleared the Ways and Means committee and is headed to the House. The measure calls for raising the gas tax by 2 cents per year over five years. The South Carolina gas tax is currently at 16.75 cents per hour and hasn’t been raised since 1987.
Former Gov. Nikki Haley, now the U.N. ambassador, stressed during her time as governor that she would veto any bill that would raise the gas tax. It is unclear whether McMaster will do the same, though he has shown strong interest in the state’s infrastructure.