SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) – Toll funding for I-73 could depend on whether a bill in the South Carolina House gets passed, according to former chair of the SCDOT Mike Wooten.
Wooten said in order for the state to legally charge tolls on that route, this bill in the House needs to pass.
"It would be impossible for us to build I-73 we believe without having a toll component," said Rep. Alan Clemmons. This piece of legislation would allow for SC 22 to become part of I-73 once it's built and be tolled as well.
"Not being apart of the interstate highway, that portion of the interstate could not be apart of a toll system," said Clemmons.
The South Carolina Trucking Association testified against this bill, but they said they are not opposed to the I-73 project itself. "Because I-73 is the mainline corridor, not SC 22. But the mainline, new greenfield part of I-73.. tolling that, we do not have a problem with it," said President of the SCTA Rick Todd.
He said the reason truck companies are not in favor of tolls is because there are so many other fees they have to pay. "Businesses that operate trucks oppose tolling because commercial vehicles by and large already pay a fuel tax, a registration fee and a property tax apportioned to every state they run in," said Todd.
Clemmons said some concerns that were brought up had to do with this bill leading to the tolling of other roads in the state.
Wooten said the bill has since been rewritten to respond to those concerns heard during the testimony, it just hasn't been reintroduced yet.
"The current bill, in its current form is pending before the committee specifies that only those roads that have been built to interstate standards since 1998," said Clemmons. He said in the state of South Carolina, SC 22 and SC 31 are the only roadways that all under those standards, and SC 31 is not being considered as art of I-73 tolling.
Todd said the trucking association isn't opposed to getting I-73 done, they just want to make sure they're asking questions.
Without I-73 we'll never be able to broaden our tourism economy to a manufacturing economy, which is a long-term goal for the area, according to Clemmons.