News | December 18, 2008

Court Orders SCDOT Officials to Answer for $150 Million Upper Santee Bridge

A federal appeals court refused to dismiss an SELC lawsuit challenging studies by the South Carolina Department of Transportation that endorse the Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Connector—a $150 million bridge and causeway that would do irreparable harm to the Upper Santee Swamp. In our federal suit, we contend that SCDOT downplayed the project’s environmental impacts and ignored other needed transportation improvements, such as repairing the state’s crumbling roads.

SCDOT argued that it did not have to answer in court for its studies, but on December 5, 2008, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with us and issued an order requiring SCDOT’s executive director to remain a defendant in the case.

“This order holds South Carolina officials accountable for pushing wasteful projects that block funding for needed improvements,” said SELC Senior Attorney Blan Holman. “In an age of shrinking budgets, SCDOT needs to forego the fat and serve up lean projects that solve real problems.”

The road project would bisect a bottomland hardwood swamp in the upper reaches of Lake Marion that has been a magnet for anglers, paddlers, and other outdoor enthusiasts for generations.