I-526 project takes major u-turn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Squabbles over the proposed I-526 expansion could soon be minimized.

The State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) voted on Thursday to transfer control of the project from Charleston County to the state.

The project has been in the works for more than three decades and still has residents divided.

Rep. Chip Limehouse said the he hopes the change will help the expansion move forward.

"We've given the county an out," Limehouse said.

Charleston County Council and the Department of Transportation Still have to approve the decision.

"If they adopt it and accept what we've done and the SCDOT adopts it and accepts what we've done, then the state is now in control of 526," Limehouse said.

The intervention from the state would help alleviate a $420 million loan the SIB says the county must use on the I-526 project or repay.

"It helps them (Charleston) with their credit rating," Limehouse said. "It gets them out of a hole they were in. It gets everybody happy again."

With positive momentum from the shift in project management, Limehouse said he hopes to dissolve a vortex created by the county's inability to move forward and keep the money in Charleston.

"We can't let that $420 million go to other parts of the state," he said.

As far as finally making progress on the project, Limehouse said that will be addressed in due time, but the primary focus is on keeping the money.

"We're going to keep that $420 million right here in Charleston," he said.

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