On Tuesday afternoon, despite extensive concerns over the feasibility of the project raised by Chairman Harvey Peeler (R – Cherokee), Senator Nikki Setzler (D – Lexington), and Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D – Orangeburg), the Joint Bond Review Committee voted to approve $75 million of state funding for Charleston County’s I-526 Extension.
Of course, that is only a tiny fraction of the entire cost, and Charleston County still must provide a staggering $1.9 BILLION to fund the roughly 9-mile road project, which will siphon money away from other necessary projects across Charleston County and escalate suburban sprawl on rural Johns Island.
Fortunately, Charlestonians will have the final say. The County’s only plan to come up with this funding is to continue taxing residents. Charleston County plans to ask voters to extend the sales tax program for 25 years. Nearly half of the money collected would go toward building the 9-mile section of I-526 that would only be used by a small fraction of residents. It’s hard to believe Charleston County voters will fall for that trick again, especially considering the fact that Charleston County misled voters about how the money from the 2016 sales tax would be used by leaving I-526 off the project list but using money to fund that project anyway, leaving other priority projects to languish.
Further, during a study of the project in 2021, 51% of people were opposed to the I-526 Extension while only 43% of people were supportive.
I-526 is an unnecessary, unpopular, and destructive project that will harm the environment, displace homes and businesses, and escalate suburban sprawl on rural Johns Island. It will drain funding from other more necessary and effective transportation projects, and, as the SC Department of Transportation stated on Tuesday, the project couldn’t be completed for at least a decade! Charleston County needs real traffic solutions now, not more empty promises.
WE’RE WITH YOU
The Conservation League remains dedicated to standing alongside residents to advocate for more realistic and responsible transportation solutions that don’t destroy our natural resources and rural communities. We will keep you informed on ways you can engage in this effort.
526 ain’t the fix!