Charleston awarded $88 mil to relieve Crosstown flooding

Cars stall as they push through Crosstown flooding in February of 2011. (WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The news of much-needed funding to complete the Crosstown flooding project was a message Rev. Randolph Miller personally fought for. His battle against rising flood waters will finally come to an end thanks to $88 million from the State Infrastructure Bank.

"I went there talking like a preacher," said Rev. Miller, pastor of Nichols Chapel A.M.E. Church located in the heart of the Crosstown. "I told them they could become our Moses if they gave us the money to help dry up the water and allow my members to cross over on dry ground."

In a press conference Thursday, Mayor Joe Riley announced that the State Infrastructure Board has awarded Charleston $88 million to fix the flooding problems on the Crosstown. The funds won't kick in until 2017, just in time for the last four years of project construction.

"What we did was, we figured that the State Infrastructure Bank didn't have the money this year but, they would have the money in 2016 or 2017. So, our creative staff came up with the idea of bond anticipation notes, so that we could issue bonds in expectation reliance of the infrastructure bank coming," said Riley.

The mayor applied for the $88 million from the SIB last October. Members of the SIB visited Charleston in November to review the project.{}

"I would like to thank the State Infrastructure Bank for this funding which will enable us to complete this most important $154 million project," Mayor Riley said. "When completed, local residents and homeowners, churches, our very important hospitals and schools, and motorists who travel the roadway, will find safe and dry passage across this part of the peninsula, and our neighborhoods here will no longer flood."

Mayor Riley said the first phase of the project is currently underway and the second phase of the project is expected to begin in May. The final phases of the project will include tunneling that will pump 4,600 gallons of water in the Ashley -- high tide having no effect.

"We felt it, as we rebuild any highway, to make it more appealing, to make it safer, have an intelligent transportation network in it that will help with the movement of traffic," said Riley.

The initial phase of construction was funded by $10 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation's TIGER Grant Program, a part of President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The SC Department of Transportation provided an additional $25 million 50/50 grant, and the City of Charleston has set aside $22.5 million for the project.

"The project will produce jobs for our citizens and great benefits for the safety and capacity of the Septima Clark Parkway, which helps every citizen and business that depends on the Crosstown Expressway, including the Port of Charleston."

More than 60,000 vehicles travel the Crosstown on a daily basis. Construction work will be on a continuous basis through the project's completion in 2020.

Mayor Riley said payment of the project will be a joint venture between state, city and federal funds and the State Department of Transportation.{}