2 cents’ worth: State gas tax increase expected to generate $642 million for South Carolina paving program

2 cents’ worth: State gas tax increase expected to generate $642 million for South Carolina paving program
South Carolina’s 2-cent state gas tax, which goes into effect July 1, is expected to provide $642 million in revenue to be used to rehabilitate or resurface 1,000 miles of roads in the state. (Courtesy: South Carolina Department of Transportation)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A 2-cent gas tax increase, which goes into effect July 1, will help the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) rehabilitate and resurface nearly 1,000 additional miles of roads over the next two years with an estimated $642 million in revenue. The state gas tax increase enacted in 2017 is being phased in 2 cents per year for six years through 2022.

“Thanks to the foresight of the General Assembly in creating sustainable additional funding, this year’s paving plan is the largest annual program in state history and will result in SCDOT having repaved more than 5,000 miles of roads across the state during a five-year period,” said J. Barnwell Fishburne, Chairman of the state’s transportation commission.

The new plan includes paving projects in all of South Carolina’s 46 counties, and is in addition to the $1.7 billion in projects SCDOT is currently implementing during Year 4 of its 10-year plan to improve road quality. Paving the state’s corridors that are in greatest need of improvement is the largest of the plan’s four programs, which also include replacing or repairing aging bridges, making rural roads safer and improving key portions of interstates.

The nearly 1,000 miles of roads being scheduled for new pavement include larger primary routes, which carry the most traffic, as well as secondary (or farm-to-market) roads and neighborhood streets. Some interstate paving is also included in the $642 million plan. SCDOT has prioritized the paving projects based on safety and crash data, the condition and age of the roads and bridges, and traffic information.

“We are committed to full transparency in how we select and construct projects,” said Christy Hall, the state’s transportation secretary. “We encourage citizens to provide comments during the paving program’s public comment period. We are putting the state gas tax and other funds to work for South Carolinians.”

Since 2017, more than $1.3 billion from the New Gas Tax Trust Fund has been allocated to new paving projects across the state. The addition of this year’s $642 million of paving will result in nearly $2 billion of paving projects in a five-year period, a record for the agency.

In total, the state gas tax, vehicle sales tax and other fees, and federal funding sources have enabled SCDOT to triple its work program to $3.2 billion, according to information received from SCDOT.

A list of the county-by-county paving projects in the new program for 2021-2022 can be found on SCDOT’s website. To review the state’s Pavement Improvement Program, click here; or click here for an interactive map of the planned projects.

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