Updated 7:24 pm
The Legislature has reached agreement on how to fund roads by leveraging $200 million in fees annually into $2.2 billion in bonds, just one day before their session is set to end.
The state Transportation Department would use fees collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles to get bonds issued by the State Infrastructure Bank.
Also included in the bill is a plan to restructure SCDOT by letting the governor appoint all eight members, including one at-large member, to the SCDOT Commission. The commission would then appoint the agency secretary.
Currently, the commission is appointed legislatively, and the governor appoints the secretary. Under the new plan, commissioners would face approval by their congressional legislative delegations before undergoing further vetting by the Joint Transportation Review Committee. Commissioners would undergo the typical Senate confirmation process. The House plan had previously tried including its chamber in the confirmation process.
The bill also lowers the threshold for projects overseen by the SIB from $100 million to $25 million. Proponents say the lower threshold is aimed at helping smaller areas of the state that wouldn’t otherwise have a chance at significant infrastructure improvements.
The funding component would replace approximately 400 structurally deficient bridges over the next 10 years.
House and Senate leaders plan to go back to the drawing board next year to try to find what they call a permanent funding stream for roads.
The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.