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March 19
SCDOT Commission Approves More Stimulus Funding

Funding method is approved for local projects in Congressional districts

 

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Commission has approved a funding method to use for the $150 million portion of the highway stimulus package SCDOT has available for local projects. South Carolina has been allotted a total of $463 million for all highway projects.

               The Commission approved the $150 million dollar figure at its February 2009 meeting. During its monthly meeting on March 19, 2009 in Columbia, the Commission voted to divide $106 million equally between the six Congressional districts, giving each district $17.75 million. This equal division of funds was agreed upon by the Commission members in an effort to create jobs all across South Carolina.

               The remaining $44 million is required by federal law to be used for projects selected by the Transportation Management Areas (TMA). A TMA is a large urban area with a population of 200,000 or more. The five areas in South Carolina are Greenville/Pickens, Charleston, Columbia, Rock Hill and Aiken/Augusta. The projects selected will be coordinated by SCDOT.

               SCDOT has received requests from Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Councils of Governments (COGs) totaling $1.5 billion, greatly surpassing the $150 million available. Members of the Commission will meet with SCDOT staff, COGs and MPOs in each of their Congressional districts to select and recommend projects from this list at the next Commission meeting in April.

               During the review of projects, some of the criteria that will be considered are rankings on the priority lists, projects that have partial funding already available and if the location is in an economically distressed area.

               The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed by President Obama in February of 2009 states that consideration should be given to the use of highway stimulus funds in economically distressed areas. Forty of South Carolina’s 46 counties fall into this category based on income levels and unemployment rates. Only Aiken, Beaufort, Charleston, Greenville, Richland and Lexington counties are not considered to be in this classification.

               SCDOT has already made a commitment to provide projects and the subsequent jobs that would be created in every county of the state through its resurfacing program as funded by the ARRA.

               In other action at its March meeting, the Commission voted to increase funding for resurfacing and other previously-approved categories of projects. Approval was given to adding another $99 million to the $200 million set aside for 120-day shovel-ready projects:              

 

 

Highway Resurfacing/ Rehabilitation  -  Additional $50 million. Total: $150 million.

Interstate Highway Maintenance  -  Additional $24 million. Total $74 million.

Bridge Replacements  - Additional $18.5 million. Total:  $56 million

Safety/Traffic Improvements  -  Additional $6.5 million. Total: $19 million

 

               Transportation Secretary H.B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. said that South Carolina continues to stay ahead of the curve in stimulus spending for highways, which helps other projects that do not receive stimulus funding. “We have been working very hard since last November to line up our stimulus-funded projects. Our goal is to use every penny available to us from the ARRA. The more work we can qualify for stimulus funding, the faster other projects will move up on the priority list,” he said.

 

               Limehouse noted that the stimulus funds nearly double the annual federal highway budget for South Carolina for this year, and that SCDOT staff will work to get these funds under contract as soon as possible.

 

Update information related to stimulus-funded projects in South Carolina will be available on the SCDOT web site: www.scdot.org.