The S.C. Department of Transportation Commission on Thursday approved paying for $23.5 million in road projects with previously earmarked federal money.
The approval comes after S.C. Republicans criticized the requests for not lining up with the department’s own priorities list.
The majority of the money —$21.5 million — will be spent in the 6th District. U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the Columbia Democrat who represents that district, had secured the money for other projects in his district. However, the projects never got off the ground or were completed below budget, freeing up money for new uses.
The new projects in the 6th District are:
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- $11.5 million for improvements along Sumter’s Manning Avenue and North Main Street corridor
- $7 million for improvements on Russell, Magnolia and Zan streets in Orangeburg
- $3 million for the University of South Carolina’s South Main Street project in Columbia
In a statement, Clyburn said he worked with local elected officials and community leaders to repurpose the money in the earmarks for projects that they have championed for decades. The communities involved are prepared to meet the requirement that they pay 20 percent of the cost of the projects in matching local money, he added.
“Consequently, these projects — which meet the legal requirement of being within a 50-mile radius of the original (earmarked) site — will not cost South Carolina taxpayers any additional funds or take away any state resources from other highway projects.”
The federal money also will pay for other projects, including $1.6 million for an Interstate 77 interchange in York County and about $360,000 for pedestrian facilities in Anderson.