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Additional $5 million for I-73 fails to materialize

$5 million in annual dedicated funding for the construction of Interstate 73 was blocked by the South Carolina Senate last week. An amendment made by the House on a Senate procurement bill to add an additional $5 million for I-73 failed to make it out of committee.

Earlier this year, members of the South Carolina House had included a total of $6 million for I-73 in their version of the budget. On the other hand, the State Senate limited funding to $1 million. The highway will continue to receive $1 million annually from the state budget.

In the House's amendment, the additional $5 million would be placed in the state's Infrastructure Bank to be used exclusively for Interstate 73. The $5 million would be an annual contribution.

Members of the Senate disagreed with having the Infrastructure Bank being directed on which projects to fund. The bill would have called for the $5 million placed in the Infrastructure Bank to be used exclusively for I-73.

The South Carolina Infrastructure Bank is used to help fund large road projects. Monies from the bank have helped to construct large projects like the Conway Bypass, Carolina Bays Parkway, and the Ravenel Bridge.

State Senator Thomas Alexander R-Walhalla is a supporter of I-73 but couldn't go along with directing the Infrastructure Bank on what projects it would specifically fund.

"We might as well do away with the Infrastructure Bank if we do that," he said. "I just can't go along with it."

Story:
Attempt to get funds for I-73 dies in Senate ---Myrtle Beach Sun News

Commentary:
I can't disagree with Senate members who did not want to include this amendment on the basis of the legislature dictating to the Infrastructure Bank on what projects to fund. The Infrastructure Bank is to support projects throughout the entire state from the Upstate, to the Low Country, to the Grand Strand, and back to Columbia. The bank isn't set up just to fund I-73.

To get funding from the Infrastructure Bank, various projects must be presented to the bank's board of directors which award the money based on various criteria. The criteria include -- but are not limited to -- project need and procurement of additional funding sources.

Port expansion and access roads, badly needed highway widening, and new freeways are just some of the projects that apply and/or receive for Infrastructure Bank funds.

Adding money to the bank is fine, but legislating where that money is to be spent is a great disservice to the rest of the state. There are a lot of other projects throughout South Carolina that shouldn't be shoved to the back of the line just for Interstate 73.

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