Infrastructure Bank Group Tours Possible Road Projects

Tue February 15, 2005 - Southeast Edition

CHARLESTON, SC (AP) The state Infrastructure Bank faces a conundrum: how to pay for $1.1 billion in highway requests with only about $300 million. To get a better idea what local governments want, a review committee of the bank toured the South Carolina coast Jan. 20.

The members first stopped in Myrtle Beach where officials want money to complete the Carolina Bays Parkway.

Then it was on to Charleston and a meeting with State Ports Authority officials about an access road between Interstate 26 and a steamship terminal planned for the old Charleston Navy Base.

Money to finish the Mark Clark Expressway and for a project to relieve congestion on busy U.S. 17 through Mount Pleasant is also part of a Charleston County request.

Committee members planned also to fly over a deadly stretch of U.S. 17 between Charleston and Beaufort which the state Transportation Department wants to widen. The committee was also scheduled to visit Anderson County.

The bank helps pay for major projects the Transportation Department cannot afford, with local governments paying for some of the work.

The committee meets in February to talk about their findings, said Max Metcalf, who heads the review committee. He didn’t know when a recommendation would go to the full board.

There’s not enough money and “we have to have policy makers and the communities try to understand what constraints are already on us,” he said. “Frankly, with what we have available, and what’s been asked from each of the applications, it’s hard to take any one of them and completely do it.”

Permits for the steamship terminal are expected later this year and it will probably be another five to six years before it is operating, said Joe Bryant, vice president of terminal development for the Ports Authority.

Bryant said the Army Corps of Engineers would probably want to approve a permit for the access road at the same time as the terminal.

The four-lane, divided access road will require a new interchange with Interstate 26.

“The road needs to be constructed before the port” so construction traffic can more easily reach the site, Bryant told the committee.