I understand that there are some sharp disagreements on the issue of how to improve our roads in South Carolina. Here are some facts that everyone needs to consider when forming their position. The bottom line is that our roads must improve to continue our success in economic development and for the quality of life and safety of our citizens. Leaving the status quo is not an option.
The Last Resort: SC infrastructure needs and how to address them
1. South Carolina has grown.
• In 1990, population was 3.5 million
• Resident population grew 15% from 1990 – 2000, and another 15% from 2000 – 2010
• Projected increase of 8.5% from 2010 – 2020, and by 2030, projected to have a population of 5.1 million, representing a 28.3% increase since 2000
• Per capita income in SC in 1987 was $13,055; by 2015 it had more than doubled to $38,302
2. SC’s road system has grown and its needs have, too.
• SC has fourth-largest state road system in the country, even though we are ranked 24th in population and 40th in land area
• Since 1987, the state system has increased by 7,425 lane miles (83,173 to 90,598)
• These additional lane miles can be the result of capacity projects that add extra lanes to existing roads, but can also be the result of newly-constructed roads (often from local MPO/COG projects)
• Capacity needs continue to grow as population increases, and maintenance needs also grow accordingly
• According to LAC (Legislative Audit Council) report, of all states, SC dedicates the smallest amount of revenue to state roads relative to the size of the system and amount of traffic it carries
3. Road funding has NOT kept pace with growth.
• SC motor fuel user fee has not been increased since 1987, putting us at a disadvantage compared to neighboring states
• LAC report states that “revenue sources are not increasing enough to cover rising costs due to inflation” ($1 in 1987 = $0.47 today) – If revenues aren’t even keeping pace with inflation, they certainly can’t keep pace with the state’s growth and the additional stress it puts on our roads
• SCDOT has been living on a fixed income since 1987–even as the number of SCDOT employees has decreased by nearly 10% since 1994, employer costs have more than doubled due to increases implemented by the General Assembly, and cost of materials has increased
• Of the 16.75 Motor Fuel User Fee, there is less than ONE CENT left to fund state system needs after required transfers to other entities, matching money for federal highway dollars, and daily highway maintenance costs [SEE ATTACHED CHART]
4. We have implemented significant reforms to SCDOT, with further improvements in H. 3516.
• Act 114 of 2007
⎫ Governance – Clarified SCDOT Commission selection process and instituted term limits for Commissioners
⎫ Project Prioritization – Established a requirement to evaluate, prioritize, and select projects based on set criteria, bringing a greater deal of objectivity and transparency to the project selection process; these lists can viewed on the SCDOT website today
⎫ Auditing – Established a Chief Internal Auditor under the Commission and required two hours of ethics training every other year for all staff and Commissioners
• Act 275 of 2016
⎫ Governance – Allowed Governor to appoint all Commissioners with advice and consent of Legislative delegations and provided additional term limits for Commissioners
⎫ Lines of Authority – Required all Infrastructure Bank projects to be ranked according to Act 114 criteria and receive SCDOT Commission approval
⎫ Auditing – Moved the SCDOT Chief Internal Auditor under the State Auditor for increased accountability
• Reform proposed in H. 3516
⎫ Governance – Streamlines appointment process by allowing the Governor to appoint Commissioners with advice and consent of the General Assembly, eliminates the Joint Transportation Review Committee, and allows the Commission to appoint the Secretary
⎫ Financial – Establishes the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund at the SCDOT, which may only be used for “repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing road system” and directs all new revenue raised by H. 3516 to be deposited into this fund
5. We must address funding needs to fix our roads–it IS the last resort.
• SCDOT needs an additional $1.1 B per year for 23 years ($25.3 B) to bring all existing pavements to a state of good repair
• As the state grows, additional investment will be required to address capacity improvements like widening and expansion to relieve congestion and aid in freight mobility
• The State has poured hundreds of millions of general fund dollars into our roads since 2014–this is unsustainable in light of other statewide needs such as unfunded pension liability and rising education and healthcare costs
• If we do not increase the dedicated revenue provided to SCDOT through the Motor Fuel User Fee and other non-general fund sources, our roads continue to decline
• The cost of inaction–as roads continue to decline, the cost to repair them increases at least $385 M each year.