The S.C. Department of Transportation Commission has approved the eventual widening of Interstate 26 between Columbia and Charleston, as well as a portion of Interstate 95.

SCDOT says it is targeting rural sections of the interstate system that are critical to the movement of freight across the state.

“Trucking is the primary mode of freight travel in South Carolina and it’s projected to grow by more than 60 percent over the next two decades,” Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said.

“To close the widening gap on I-26 between Columbia and Charleston is estimated to cost about $1.8 billion in today’s dollars and to widen the first 33 miles of I-95 is estimated to cost $1.2 billion. We must start today with identifying how to break these corridors into projects that can be advanced as funding becomes available,” she said.

The commission approved directing $110 million annually toward the widening projects once the fuel tax credit program sunsets in July of 2023. This is the six-year program in which motorists can file for tax credits connected to the increased fuel tax enacted in 2017 on their state income tax returns.

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SCDOT says the section of I-26 between Columbia and Charleston and the portion of I-95 at the southern end of the state are among the top rural interstate corridors designated for widening by the commission.

Sixth District Commissioner J. Barnwell Fishburne said, “Improving the I-95 and I-26 interstate corridors is absolutely critical to the continued economic growth of the state and it is long overdue.

“I applaud the staff and commission for recognizing that we needed to address the interstate needs in the rural areas of the state.”

First District Commissioner Robby Robbins said, “The commission’s action today finally puts SCDOT in the right position to begin to tackle the widening of these two key interstate corridors.

“We are seeing tremendous economic growth and we must widen our interstates in order to remain economically competitive as well as address the needs of our existing businesses and consumers.”

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