Thursday, May 26, 2016

Time runs out on funding plan for I-526 extension

Ultimate fate of funding undecided

Posted by Dustin Waters on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 2:24 PM

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Strong arguments from the Charleston area’s state, county, and city leaders were not enough to extend the deadline to find funding the completion of I-526, which was shot down Thursday by the state’s Transportation Infrastructure Bank.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg traveled to Columbia to argue for more time to allow Charleston County to decide on a funding plan for the highway’s completion. In late April, Charleston City Council voted to back the county’s efforts for making up the more than $300 million needed for the project.

A revised timeline to determine how best to pay for the I-526 extension was presented to the Transportation Infrastructure Bank Thursday. The proposed schedule included plans to conduct a toll road study between June and September and decide on a half-cent sales tax referendum before returning to the board at the end of the year with a final funding strategy. Tecklenburg suggested that more than $160 million of the needed funds could be raised by tolls with the remainder coming from the proposed sales tax.

Instead of giving Charleston County more time, the board will now work on a plan to decide what happens to the $420 million already set aside for the project, which would have extended I-526 through Johns Island and James Island.

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