When a conservative think tank and the environmentalists team up to criticize the same state agency, they’re probably on to something.
Our system of funding roads is just about as broken as it gets, with a recent decision by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank being the prime example.
Last month, the Infrastructure Bank took a vote to build an eight-mile extension of the Mark Clark Expressway in Charleston, despite the fact that its bonding capacity is used up and the project is wildly unpopular locally.
Or to put it in language folks outside the State House might use, the bank spent money we don’t have on a project we don’t need and the people don’t want.
Worse, the bank is force-feeding asphalt to Charleston, while the rest of South Carolina is on a starvation diet.
Seeing this, the conservative S.C. Policy Council and the environmentalist Coastal Conservation League — two groups who are rarely singing off of the same sheet of music — have teamed up to point out just how corrupt our system for funding infrastructure has become.
I think they’re on to something.
Anybody who drives has seen the sorry shape of our roads. In my neck of the woods, we have see-through bridges, with more holes than Swiss cheese. In Cowpens, Exit 83 is in such disrepair that you have to drive through the parking lot of Mountain View Baptist Church to get back onto Interstate 85. I-26 is a parking lot on many weekends between Charleston and Columbia.
Meanwhile, since the Infrastructure Bank was created in 1997, it has doled out about $4 billion, with a little more than $2 billion going to just two counties — Charleston and Horry. In fact, only 11 of our 46 counties have ever even gotten a penny of funding.
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