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February 19
SCDOT Commission Approves a Portion of South Carolina’s Highway Stimulus Funds

Commission approves 120-day “Shovel-Ready” projects

              The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Commission approved the use of up to $200 million in federal stimulus funds for projects that fall into these four categories:

Highway Resurfacing & Rehabilitation  -  $100 million

Interstate Highway Maintenance  -  $50 million

Bridge Replacements  -  $37.5 million

Safety Improvements  -  $12.5 million

 

               The Commission took these and other actions at its monthly meeting on February 19, 2009, and only three days after President Obama signed the Economic Recovery Act into law. The projects in these categories have been qualified as “shovel-ready” within 120 days by SCDOT engineers. This means that the preliminary engineering work, required permits, etc. have been or will be completed within 120 days, and that project contracts can be awarded. SCDOT engineers are working on  final project lists for these categories. The final lists will include projects in every county in the state.

 

               The Economic Recovery Act gives SCDOT the ability to spend $463 million in highway stimulus funds, and $41 million in mass transit projects. The Act requires that 30% of the highway dollars are to be spent on local projects coordinated by SCDOT and Councils of Governments (COGs) and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) around the state. The deadline for awarding contracts for these projects is one year. The Commission plans to continue its discussion of these projects at its next meeting in March.

 

               The Commission also approved $14 million for sidewalk programs around the state. The Economic Recovery Act requires that states use 3% of their highway dollars for enhancements such as sidewalks. The $14 million represents SCDOT’s 3% requirement. These funds will be used to build sidewalks on existing highways that have none, improve or widen existing sidewalks, or to bring sidewalks into compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA) that do not have ramps, etc.

 

               These sidewalk projects will allow smaller contractors that cannot handle multi-million dollar projects to participate in the stimulus-funded highway program. SCDOT staff will recommend sidewalk projects to the Commission for approval.

 

               The Commission gave its approval to the spending of over $16 million in mass transit funds in the following manner:

 

Rural Transit Facilities  -  $8,050,232 for 10 facilities consisting of construction for new facilities and the upgrade of existing facilities.

 

Rural Vehicles  -  $6,720,000 for the replacement of smaller “cutaway “ vehicles that will reach the end of their lifespans within two years.

 

Rural Virtual Transit Enterprise (VTE)  -  $1,847,495 would provide the technology for locater devices for transit vehicles. The technology would allow better scheduling of transportation for the elderly, disabled and other users of social service transportation systems in the state.

 

               Transportation Secretary H.B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. said that South Carolina is ahead of the curve in stimulus spending for highways. “Our staff has been working since last fall to qualify projects for “shovel-ready” status. The steps taken by our Commission in January and today have allowed us to move forward with the process of getting this work out on the streets which will provide jobs, and also will provide improved and safer highways and bridges for the public,” said Limehouse.

 

               Limehouse noted that the stimulus funds nearly double the annual federal highway budget for South Carolina for this year. These funds will allow other projects to move up on the priority lists much faster, creating a “double win” for the state.