SC roads chief: state needs $29.3 billion to make roads ‘good’

01/16/2013 2:29 PM

01/16/2013 2:35 PM

COLUMBIA, SC The S.C. Department of Transportation needs $29.3 billion over the next two decades to make the state road system “good” again, state transportation secretary Robert St. Onge told the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday.

The needed cash, $1.5 billion a year for twenty years, is not included in the agency’s 2013 budget request, St. Onge said after the meeting, adding that his job, under current funding levels, is “to manage the decline of the state highway system.”

A department of transportation study committee has identified several sources of revenue lawmakers could consider as ways to meet the state’s transportation needs. They include adjusting the gas tax, raising fees for drivers licenses and automobile registration, implementing tolls or new user fees, and redirecting money from other sources.

Raising the state’s gas tax, last raised in 1987 and fourth lowest in the nation, will not meet the state’s needs alone, St. Onge said.

St. Onge said the agency also has completely recovered from a “cash-flow problem” in 2011 that delayed millions of dollars in payments to contractors.

Now contractors are paid within 30 calendar days a payment has been approved by the agency, more quickly than state law requires, St. Onge said.

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