County council to discuss new I-526 plan

By Jon

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- To build or not to buildthat will once again be the question on the minds of Charleston county leaders tonight.

Last week the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) told county council, they needed to finish the road or pay back nearly $12 million.

Tuesday night, Council Chairman Teddie Pryor will unveil a new, smaller, $200 million plan that will carry Interstate 526 over the Stono River and onto John's Island before ending at Maybank Highway.

"Sometimes you have to make the hard decisions and you have to do what's best for all the citizens in Charleston County," county council vice president Elliot Summey said. "You have to put emotion aside and do what's right for the citizens and their safety."

Summey said since Thursday's decision by the SIB his phone and inbox have been lighting up with response -- most that said it's time to finish the project.

"We are in a very embarrassing and legal and financial dilemma where we have taken a loan and spent part of the loan from the SIB and now we want to give that money back," he said.

But that no build option, voted on by county council last month, could cost Charleston millions in state funding --{} nearly 200 jobs, and damage the county's credit.

And now Summey, Pryor and others hope they can convince fellow council members that not to build is no option at all.

The new smaller scale plan is slated to improve traffic and hurricane evacuation routes for the estimated 140 thousand vehicles that cross Interstate 526 and Interstate 26 every day.

"We have to do something that makes the entire population of Charleston a whole," Summey said. "Some folks on James island don't want it. Some folks on Johns Island don't want it. But, since all this stuff went down on Thursday with the SIB my email has been flooded with people saying 'hey what are you doing over there?' "

Chip Limehouse{}who sits on{}the State Infrastructure Bank, is hopeful county council and the state can come to some kind of resolution.

"I don't think the option of taking the 420 million dollars and spreading it around Charleston County is viable. Don't think its going to happen," Limehouse said.

This leaves council members with a tough task and difficult choices.

"I think we should build what we can with the money we have," Summey said.

Tuesday's Council Finance Committee hearing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

Check back with ABC News 4 for updates on this developing story.

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