New campaign aims to promote widening I-26

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- There's a new effort to improve a major local interstate at the expense of completing another one.

Drivers on I-26 near Remount Road are seeing a push to improve the highway. A new billboard sponsored by the Coastal Conservation League warns travelers what the future holds for the road.

"When we're looking at I-26 specifically, there's already $420 million set in the bank for the extension of I-526. And so that money could easily be reallocated to a higher priority project," said Myles Maland, project manager of the Coastal Conservation League.

He says the group's new website - - encourages people to take action by contacting lawmakers and telling them to fund the widening of Interstate 26 to Columbia, and to scrap plans for completing 526.

"It's not ranked anywhere on the statewide list. And so to dump, you know, almost over half a billion dollars into a project that is not ranked a priority is just not a good use of funds," said Maland.

"I hate to say it, I think we need to do both. We need a lot of road improvements here," said Charleston County Councilman Herb Sass.

The District 1 council member supports the completion of the Mark Clark Expressway, but he knows the Lowcountry's population and job growth are fueling the need to build better roads.

"We have a very limited amount of access in and out of town and I-26 is very important. I can't agree more. It needs to be widened. And with the port, a third lane to 95 would sure be great," said Sass.

Still, the councilman realizes money is limited and he supports any idea that could influence changing the funding formula for improving local highways.

The Coastal Conservation League remains against the proposal to increase the gas tax, which would help pay for other highway improvements.

Unless their Fix 26 campaign gains traction, many lawmakers agree completing I-526 will continue to be a top priority.