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AASHTO Journal

SC Governor Asks Trump for $5.18B Federal Appropriation for State Transportation Needs

New South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has written President Trump, news services reported, to seek a $5.18 billion appropriation for his state's transportation needs, while the South Carolina transportation secretary warns the highway system is suffering from years of under-investment.

McMaster, the former lieutenant governor who took office Jan. 24 as former Gov. Nikki Haley resigned to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reportedly wrote Trump Feb. 6 in what was described as his first major action as South Carolina's chief executive.

In a copy of his Feb. 6 letter provided by the GoLaurens.com news site, McMaster wrote that South Carolina "needs a federal appropriation of $180 million" to complete a deepening of Charleston's harbor to accommodate the largest new-era containerships, adding that state has already set aside its share of $341 million.

capitol0816.jpgMcMaster added: "While our Charleston port is strong and getting stronger, our roads and bridges leading to it and to our neighboring states need help." He also after South Carolina has endured storms including hurricanes and floods, plus "the recession and counter-productive federal policies," that "it is too much at this time to ask our people to bear this burden alone, heightening fears of increased gas taxes, delay, missed opportunities and decline."

He wrote that an appropriation of $5 billion "from your infrastructure plan will help us bridge the economic gap and ignite a prosperity which will return the investment many times over."

McMaster's letter followed a Feb. 1 release by Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall of a report on the state of the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

It said some recent state funding increases allowed the SCDOT to make some progress in interstate widening, resurfacing and bridge replacement programs.

"However, long-term funding shortfalls over decades have created the need to reconstruct over 50 percent of the pavement in the state's 41,000-mile system," the announcement said, while "hundreds of bridges remain structurally deficient."

The report said the state is spending $415 million a year on pavement projects, but should be spending about $900 million.

The SCDOT added: "Years of deferred maintenance have contributed to South Carolina's ranking as #1 in the nation in highway deaths," and listed among major needs the creation of a Rural Road Safety Program directly aimed at reducing fatalities.

The news reports on the McMaster request for federal funds said the governor planned to direct $2 billion to pavement work, repairs to interstate highways and primary roads, another $2 billion to reduce congestion on the state's busiest highways and freight corridors, $500 million for a rural roads safety program and $500 million to upgrade deficient bridges.

2/10/2017
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