CHARLESTON, South Carolina — In a year in which fixing South Carolina's roads has become a political issue, AAA Carolinas on Wednesday released its list of the top substandard bridges in the state - a list again led by six spans on Interstate 26, all built at least a half-century ago.
For the 13th time in the 17 years the list has been released, it is again topped by the I-26 bridge just northwest of Columbia that carries the interstate across the CSX Railroad. That bridge, carrying almost 550,000 vehicles a week, is considered structurally deficient, meaning it is in relatively poor condition and/or inadequate to handle the weight of trucks crossing it.
The Charlotte, North Carolina, motor club compiles the list based on Department of Transportation data factoring in the traffic volume on each bridge.
The other five bridges at the top of the list are on the interstate in Lexington, Richland and Charleston counties. In all, 7.2 million vehicles cross the state's top 20 substandard bridges each week.
Of the state's 9,200 bridges, about 21 percent are considered substandard which means the bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, which means they are not designed to handle the current traffic volume. That's slightly better than the national average of 24 percent.
The Department of Transportation says it will cost $1.5 billion to bring all the state's roads into good condition. In South Carolina roadwork is mainly funded through federal matches and the state's 16-cents-per-gallon fuel tax, which hasn't changed since 1987.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Vincent Sheheen has proposed a plan dedicating 5 percent of the state budget and surplus every year to repairing and building roads. That would have raised about $350 million last year.
Independent candidate Tom Ervin has proposed eliminating the personal income tax and passing additional tax reform to provide money for roads and bridges and other needs.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has said she will unveil her plan to increase highway funding in January when the General Assembly returns to Columbia.
On the Internet:
AAA Carolinas list of substandard bridges: http://bit.ly/1uHbYjK