South Carolina drivers and travelers have seen the state's gasoline tax rise by 4 cents over the past two years. Today, July 1, the tax increases another 2 cents and will go up 2 cents each year through 2022 as the key component of funding for road and bridge improvements.
Nearly everyone has an opinion on whether the state is making progress on those improvements. If you drive a highway or road that has issues such as potholes and there has been no work over the past two years, you likely think the state is failing in its mission. If your route has seen improvements, you're of the opposite view.
Priorities have to be established by the S.C. Department of Transportation, which is two years into a 10-year plan for improvements. Even with special projects such as targeting potholes, there is no way to fix and/or repave everywhere at once. Bringing the state's roads and bridges up to an acceptable standard is an ongoing and lengthy process after decades of too little funding.
A key component of the 10-year plan is a dramatic increase in the paving program across the state.
The SCDOT ranks paving projects according to a number of factors -- including pavement quality, roughness, traffic volumes and truck traffic -- in an effort to determine what a road's biggest needs are and the priority of paving projects, Mike Davidson, SCDOT District 7 contracts manager, told The Times and Democrat.
And the rankings are subject to change with changing road conditions. SCDOT updates the data on a yearly basis with some new roads being added if they’ve deteriorated.
You can have input.
SCDOT is providing public notification of projects as part of the Proposed 2020 Pavement Improvement Program, which includes rehabilitation and reconstruction of 561.39 miles of pavement across the state.
You can see a list of projects with an online mapping tool at the SCDOT website. The link is http://scdot.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=121b8bf68a184d9a90efa3cb3c9fa2d2
You have until July 18 to file a comment.
Not to be forgotten in the push to pave is a key aspect of the SCDOT plan, the Rural Road Safety Improvement Project. It uses $50 million a year for the state’s deadliest stretches of highway. The target is to make customized safety improvements on 100 miles per year for 10 years.
The safety improvements planned for these corridors go beyond paving to include wider, paved shoulders, wider and brighter pavement markings, rumble stripes along edge lines and center lines, brighter roadway signs, reflective sign post panels, beveled driveway culverts, wider clear zones and additional guardrails.
As the gas tax goes up another 2 cents, the work will continue with improvements becoming more visible in more and more areas of the state.
As much as many motorists might argue even more of the money needs to go to resurfacing, the ultimate objective is highway safety. South Carolina leads the nation in per-capita road fatalities, with nearly 30% of the fatal and serious injury crashes occurring on 5% of rural roads. Deficient bridges and the most dangerous rural roads are priorities for improvements.