COLUMBIA, South Carolina — The South Carolina Department of Transportation is projecting that by the year 2040, South Carolina will need to spend another $70 billion on transportation needs — $60 billion of that on roads.
But the state's 2040 Multimodal Transportation Plan finds that, based on current revenue projections of only $28 billion during the period, the state will be about $1.5 billion short each year of meeting its highway needs.
The draft plan was released last month and was the topic of series of public meetings held around the state. The public comment period closed on Sept. 25.
Paying for new highways and maintaining existing ones has been a recurring topic this election year.
Last week, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce said it will support increasing the state gasoline tax to get more money for roads. And a bipartisan group of lawmakers looking at the issue has said more money for roads will be a priority next session.
Money for maintaining and building roads is needed with South Carolina's population of 4.7 million expected to increase to more than 6 million by 2040.
A look at some of the projections in the Intermodal Plan that was developed with the help of the state Department of Commerce, the South Carolina Ports Authority, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and other groups:
— Of the $60 billion needed for new roads during the next quarter century, the plan envisions that $13 billion is needed to increase the capacity of the state's interstate system. That figure includes adding lanes, upgrading interchanges and $2.4 billion for Interstate 73, which, when completed will connect Myrtle Beach to Michigan. Currently 28 percent of the vehicle miles traveled in the state are on interstate highways, even though interstates only account for 2 percent of total highway mileage.
Other Roadway Needs
— The plan suggests that almost $22 billion will be needed for other new roads and expanding existing roads while $23 billion will be needed for maintaining and resurfacing existing roads.
— DOT maintains almost 8,400 bridges statewide that are more than 20 feet long. The plan says that $4 billion will be needed to replace obsolete bridges and $1.3 billion needed by 2040 for maintenance.
— The plan envisions that South Carolina will need $2.4 billion to maintain existing public transportation services. Providing enhanced services that would include expanded, more frequent and evening and weekend services will cost another $1.2 billion. Six of the state's 46 counties currently have no public transportation system.
— The intermodal plan says $1.2 billion will be needed for planning and building bicycle lanes and trails.
— The plan suggests that $1.7 billion will be needed for rapid rail and bus transit. That figure includes just over $1 billion for the South Carolina segment of a proposed high speed rail corridor between Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta.