South Carolina lawmakers agreed this year to borrow up to $500 million to improve state roads, and now we know where a big chunk of that money is likely going: the I-85/I-385 interchange in Greenville County. That’s the top priority on the SCDOT’s list of options for what to do with the new money.
But that doesn’t mean it’s definite. That $500 million doesn’t go to the DOT, it goes to the State Infrastructure Bank, or SIB, a separate entity set up to handle larger road and bridge projects. The SIB does not have to follow the DOT’s priority list.
"They don't, but we really feel like there's a good working relationship between the commission and the SIB. They're going to be coming to us to look for recommendations,” says DOT commissioner Eddie Adams of Seneca.
The SCDOT Commission met Thursday and passed a resolution urging the SIB Board to follow the DOT priority list.
As chairman of the SCDOT Commission, John Edwards of Travelers Rest is also a member of the SIB Board. He says he’s only one of the seven votes on the SIB Board, but he’ll vote to follow the priority list.
"It will widen 85. It will make the interchange a lot more accessible and a lot more safe. As you know, we've had quite a few accidents coming off and on the interchange at 385 and 85," he says.
The I-85/I-385 project would use $240 million of the $500 million of new money for roads. Second on the priority list is about five miles of I-26 in Lexington and Richland counties, between St. Andrews Road and Broad River Road.
Third on the priority list is almost 25 miles of I-85 in Greenville and Spartanburg counties, from US 25 to SC 129.
Fourth is an almost-20-mile stretch of I-526 in Charleston and Berkeley counties, from SC 7 to US 17.
The SIB Board is expected to meet in August or September. If it agrees to make the I-85/I-385 interchange the top priority, work would get underway this year, Commissioner Adams says.
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