Standing room only at I-526 meeting as SCDOT votes 'No' on taking charge

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- The small room in the South Carolina Department of Transportation Commission building was packed Wednesday morning as commissioners and local leaders discussed the completion of the Interstate 526 extension project.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley likened the project to a heart surgery left incomplete, with extra stress on the arteries. He also said that if a hurricane were to ever hit the area, I-526 would be a crucial part of evacuation.

Mayor Riley also pointed out that the majority of citizens that would be impacted by the project were in favor of it.

An opposing viewpoint brought up at the hearing pointed out that the I-526 project should not get so much money when the rest of state is in greater need. While it would benefit parts of Charleston County, 43 other counties would be left out.

The state infrastructure bank has pledged $558 million dollars for the project.

After hearing from two SCDOT commissioners, it appeared board was leaning toward a 'No' vote, and then some commissioners noted that the issue needed to be decided at the county level.

The SCDOT commission then voted unanimously to not take over the I-526 expansion project.

Teddie Pryor, chairman of the Charleston County Council, has said that no matter what the SCDOT decides, county council will not let the project die and they will move forward with it some other way.