State Transportation Infrastructure Bank Board Makes the Right Call on Mark Clark Extension
Columbia, S.C. – Today the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank, or “SIB,” voted against giving the County a year-long extension to explore funding the project with a toll. With no other funding source identified for the $350 million needed to cover the shortfall, the SIB made the decision to start the process of unwinding funding for the Mark Clark Extension.
“The Bank Board took a realistic look at the project’s future and decided it was in the best interest of the state to pull the plug on the proposed I-526 extension. Today’s decision opens up funding for much-needed improvements to the existing transportation system, which could include projects like a West Ashley flyover at 17 and Main Road and bus rapid transit along the I-26 corridor,” said Natalie Olson, Land Use Director and Staff Attorney for the League.
The SIB had given Charleston County leaders a March 30, then April 8, deadline to either raise the $350 million needed to cover the Mark Clark extension shortfall, or to come up with a concrete funding plan to do so. Without that, the SIB could move the $420 million currently earmarked for the extension into projects elsewhere in the state.
At the SIB meeting today, City of Charleston Mayor Tecklenburg presented the option to toll the Mark Clark extension. The SIB Board rejected a motion to give Charleston City and County governments one year to complete a tolling study for the project.
“Today’s vote provides the Charleston region with a chance to take a realistic look at transportation projects that will do much more to fix the area’s growing congestion. There are options available that make better sense for both transportation planning and government budgets than the Mark Clark extension,” Southern Environmental Law Center Attorney Chris DeScherer said.