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South Carolina officials approve $719M for pavement improvements

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(The Center Square) — The South Carolina Department of Transportation Commission has agreed to spend another $719 million on pavement improvements across the state.

The commission approved the 2025 Pavement Improvement Program, adding to the $3.6 billion in tax money state officials have previously allocated for pavement improvements since implementing a strategic plan in 2018. The move adds 727 miles of roads to more than 8,800 miles of road work that is either ongoing or has been completed.

In 2017, state lawmakers passed a measure to increase vehicle fees and the state’s gas tax, a move expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue. Agency officials then implemented a strategic, decade-long plan focusing on four key areas: Highway safety, bridges, road resurfacing and interstate capacity.

“There is no question that the transportation system in South Carolina is critical to our future as a state and to the prosperity of all South Carolinians,” Secretary of Transportation Justin P. Powell said in a statement. “With the implementation of the Strategic 10-Year Plan in 2018, we invested a significant amount of the new gas tax in improving our pavements and catching up on more than 30 years of deferred maintenance on our system.”

Officials cited an “increased and sustainable revenue stream” as the driving force behind the decision. Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster said road upgrades — specifically bridge repairs — would be a priority in his spending plan.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the Palmetto State a D plus in its 2021 Report Card. It gave the state a D for its roads.

“As the population and tourism industry increase, so do Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) which contributes to more traffic congestion and pavement wear,” the group said. “South Carolina has undertaken several initiatives to address the major concerns of the transportation infrastructure, but with more than half the roads in poor condition, the highest fatality rate in the U.S., and almost 20% increase in VMT, there is a significant need for additional funding, especially towards addressing capacity and safety.”