*Corrected June 1
South Carolina’s crumbling roads are no secret to anyone who travels across them. But one group may want the roads repaired more than the rest of us.
At least 27 members of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads gained a combined approximately *$191.4 million in contracts with the state Transportation Department in fiscal year 2015.
The alliance was formed in 1981 by engineers and contractors. These people are a part of our economy, says the group’s executive director, Bill Ross.
A 501(c)(4) that may only promote issues, the group has undergone several name changes since the 1980s. Today, the membership is still composed of engineers and contractors, though the staff has since actively recruited chambers of commerce and the tourism industry. The alliance is made up of people who understand the condition of South Carolina’s roads, says associate director, Jordan Marsh.
The group backed in 2016 plans before the Legislature that would have increased the state’s 16.75 cents-a-gallon gas tax. A filibuster by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, bogged down the Senate’s plan. Several other attempts by legislators to fund roads stalled, also. But a $2.2 billion borrowing plan to help repair roads passed the House late in May. That plan may be nearing the finish line.
“This will be a great start to streamline some funding into the SCDOT,” Marsh says.
But this “great start” may not be enough. The SCDOT has said it needs $1.2 billion per year to bring the state’s transportation system up to par.
The alliance will continue to support a tax increase—one ideally that is tied to inflation. An increase would place some of the shared tax burden on out-of-state drivers, who are responsible for approximately 30 percent of the state’s traffic, according to Marsh.
The group also supports increasing other roads revenues, including car sales taxes.
A Barnwell native, Ross has a background in the petroleum and trucking industries. He worries his home state could be moving backwards because of anti-tax activists’ pressure on the Legislature. “As great as South Carolina is, you’ve got to be able to get here,” he says.
Businesses contracting with the SCDOT must first apply before bidding for a job, according to a spokesman at the agency. Bids are reviewed and accepted based on a contractor’s number of bids, bid competitiveness, availability of competition in a particular area, pricing, and federal criteria.
Contracts gained by alliance members in 2015 ranged from $350 to $39.7 million.
Members of the group that benefited from SCDOT contracts are—
Ashmore Brothers Inc.
Banks Construction Company
Blanchard Machinery Company
Carolina International Trucks
CR Jackson Inc.
Davis & Floyd
HDR Engineering Inc.
Lane Construction Corp.
Martin Marietta Materials
Municipal Association of South Carolina
Palmetto Paving Corp.
Phillips & Jordan Inc.
Sanders Brothers Construction Company
Sanitary Plumbing Contractors Inc.
SEACO Inc., Asphalt Emulsions
Sloan Construction Company
South Carolina Asphalt Pavement Association
Stantec Consulting Services
STV/Ralph Whitehead Associates
*Our original calculation was $169.9 million because we failed to add one figure, a nearly $21.5 million contract with Lane Construction Corporation. The correct sum is approximately $191.4 million in contracts between SCFOR members and the SCDOT.