The State Infrastructure Bank voted unanimously on Thursday to spend $88 million on Charleston's planned improvement of the Septima P. Clark Expressway, a stretch of U.S. Highway 17 also known as the Crosstown.
The Crosstown, built in 1964, is notorious for its poor drainage system, often flooding during heavy rainfall. Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., who had come under criticism for not fixing the Crosstown during his first nine terms in office, promised during his 2011 re-election campaign that he would secure the necessary funding and get construction started within four years if re-elected.
The Crosstown fix will include a series of underground tunnels and pump stations to drain water into the Ashley River. The city has begun adding pipes under the roadway and plans to complete the project by 2020 at a cost of $154 million. So far, $133 million has been secured, and the city plans to set aside the remaining $21 million from federal funds as well as utility franchise fees and a special property tax collected in the area around the Gaillard Auditorium.
The initial construction phase was funded by $10 million in federal stimulus money in 2009. The S.C. Department of Transportation has provided an additional $12.5 million to match a $12.5 million contribution by the city in the form of a 50/50 grant. Additionally, the City of Charleston has also contributed about $10 million for engineering and design work.
A previous version of this story indicated that the city had not planned out how to secure the remaining $21 million. We regret the error.