Peeler, Sheheen work together on highway reform

Well, here’s a positive development. You know how, a couple of days ago, the SC Senate Republican Caucus, led by Harvey Peeler, put out an agenda that included the following?

Transportation Reform – The Caucus will support structural and funding changes to our state’s infrastructure maintenance and construction process to make sure every dollar is maximized and allocated based on merit. The Caucus will explore mechanisms for increasing funding to meet growing infrastructure needs without raising taxes.

I knew that was something Harvey particularly cared about. Remember this op-ed he wrote on the subject, “Force-feeding asphalt to Charleston while the rest of S.C. starves“?

Well, anyway, instead of doing what a lot of party leaders do — trying to push through their agendas along party lines — Harvey is teaming up with a leading Democrat on this one:

Peeler, Sheheen introduce bipartisan highway reform bill

Columbia, SC – January 10, 2013 – Senators Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) and Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) today introduced a bipartisan transportation reform bill, aimed at restructuring the state’s transportation agencies, better coordinating the highway construction process, and ending irresponsible over-borrowing.



The bill, S.209, would eliminate the State Infrastructure Bank, and fold its functions into the state Department of Transportation. It would also prevent the DOT from borrowing for construction projects above and beyond its bonding capacity.

The bill arose from years of State Infrastructure Bank projects being awarded based on political decisions rather than merit, and after it was recently revealed that the SIB approved borrowing for the I-526 extension in Charleston above the established bonding capacity.

Peeler said the bill was needed to make sure road funding was a merit based and need based process.

“The SIB has been force feeding asphalt to the coast, while the Upstate and many rural areas starve,” Peeler said. “It just doesn’t make sense to have one state agency building expensive new roads when we can’t even keep up with our current maintenance needs. I’m pleased to have bi-partisan support  on a much-needed reform that will help get the politics out of road building.”

Sheheen said “we must give priority to fixing our existing roads and bringing accountability to our government.”

Looks like Harvey’s seeking a consensus solution — at least among non-coastal senators. Here’s hoping something good comes out of the effort. With both of these guys invested in reform, there seems a better-than-usual chance of that.

5 thoughts on “Peeler, Sheheen work together on highway reform

  1. tavis micklash

    My only question is how its going to get paid for. Will this require raised gas tax or is it just re appropriating existing funds.

    Regardless I’m really not against investing on infrastructure that benefits business. It just has to be done fairly and with merit. Im also not a big fan of lumping parks/ trails/ sidewalks on as “infrastructure” If you are redoing the road adding a bike lane or sidewalk is ok. Doing a separate project not so much.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      But if, for example, I and enough other people would bike or walk if a separate trail existed, reducing the stress on roads, why not build it?

      1. tavis micklash

        How many people would have to walk/ bike to work to approach the cost per person of the road?

        I think this is an insignificant amount and will have relatively no effect on the wear and tear of the roads.

        Im not a heartless pig though. If you are redoing the road by all means add a bike lane. I think there is minimal cost for that. For example Hardscrabble and Bluff road are getting expanded, go ahead and add the bike lanes (BTW they are under the penny).

        My purpose wasn’t to re litigate the penny tax though. Thats a done deal. I just don’t want gas tax money going into walking trails.

  2. bud

    “The Caucus will support structural and funding changes to our state’s infrastructure maintenance and construction process to make sure every dollar is maximized and allocated based on merit.”

    Good luck with that. Let’s just hope The State newspaper doesn’t get behind this effort. Because if it passes and then turns into a big clusterfest we’ll never know.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Of course, for this to be “reform,” the priority-setting must truly be merit-based, and do more than just shift funding from the Lowcountry to the Upstate (Peeler’s territory) and the Midlands (Sheheen’s)…

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