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Each day we swerve around potholes, dodge rocks and pray the bridge beneath us doesn’t collapse. It’s no wonder that South Carolina is ranked second deadliest places to drive. Yes, second deadliest. This ranking is simply unacceptable and certainly doesn’t fit well next to our Condé Nast award ranking Charleston as the number one travel destination in the U.S.
But with a $42 billion infrastructure funding shortfall, it is impossible for our state Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to make the improvements necessary to solve this critical issue. For our region to continue to reach economic success this must be addressed or the situation will only worsen.
Currently, South Carolinians enjoy a motor fuel user fee that has not increased since 1987, while the Consumer Price Index has grown by 105% and traffic has grown by 61%. The current rate of 16 cents per gallon is the fourth lowest fee in the nation. However, SCDOT controls and maintains 63% of the state’s roads; three times more than other states.
Just to be clear, SCDOT is on the top of the chart for miles controlled but our state ranks as one of the lowest in terms of motor fuel user fees collected.
And that fee doesn’t increase with the price of fuel, which means the only way to increase revenue is to increase fuel consumption leading to more stress on our roads. It’s no wonder that our roads are suffering so severely. Nearly one third of our state’s primary and interstate highways are in poor or mediocre condition and one out of every five bridges is considered load deficient.
It is imperative that we find the funding necessary to fix our roads. Thus, one of the Chamber’s main focuses for the 2015 legislative session is to advocate for a 25 cent increase to the motor fuel user fee.
North Carolina and Georgia are our primary competitors from both an economic development and tourism standpoint, but each of these states fund their highways at a much higher level. While we are spending an average of $15,000 per mile, Georgia spends $35,000 per mile and North Carolina spends more than $150,000. North Carolina’s motor fuel user fee is 38.9 cents per gallon, while in Georgia the combination of the state’s motor fuel user fees and the state’s use tax is the equivalent of 28.6 cents per gallon. A 25 cent increase will place South Carolina in line with its neighbors.
Transportation infrastructure affects everyone. Our residents deserve to feel safe driving our roads on a daily basis. And our businesses deserve to be able to efficiently transport their goods and services.
Join us in our work to have Fix SC Roads heard by our legislators. Learn more at Fixscroads.com and view action items that will bring your voice to the table. We must act quickly for the safety of all who use our roads.