This does not inspire confidence, people!

As y’all may have noticed that I haven’t had any bad words to say lately about SC DOT’s ginormous, biggest-ever, construction project, which they call — hang on, I’ve got to go look that up, because nobody but DOT calls it that — the Carolina Crossroads Project.

It’s what everyone else calls “the project to fix Malfunction Junction.”

To resume, I haven’t had anything bad to say about it, even as it’s finally gotten visibly under way, because they decided back in 2017 not to run it through my house. I thought that was nice of them. But mainly, I’ve lost interest, so that’s why I seem to have held back.

But I’ve got to show you the sign that I pass pretty much every day on my way to visit my mother.

This does not inspire confidence.

And if you don’t see what’s wrong, look again. It’s been there, spelled like that, for at least a month or two. Does DOT have hundreds of other signs like that, or is this one unique? I hope it’s unique, although I’m not sure how that would happen, unless they make them by hand in a shack back behind DOT HQ.

And maybe it doesn’t bother normal people. Normal people’s brains probably automatically fix the spelling as they read it, and they don’t notice, and they go on with their lives. But it certainly bothers those of us who have been editors for so many decades…

See? It’s still like that.


24 thoughts on “This does not inspire confidence, people!

  1. Doug Ross

    How have those road improvements been going since all the additional gas taxes and penny taxes were instituted? Has any project been completed on time or on budget? In know Hardscrabble road has been in a strate of perpetual construction without any visible progress in five years.

    What a shock.. a government agency gets a huge influx of tax dollars and continues to underperform. It’s almost like accountability, excellence, and efficiency go out the window when the someone else is footing the bill.

    It was the easiest prediction in history that it would turn into another government sinkhole (literally). But you keep pushing for those taxes every single time. Every time this happens, my libertarian viewpoint is certified as truth.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      We might need bud to step in and correct me here, but I think you’re talking about two different things. Or maybe three things, dealing with three different levels of government.

      There’s the county penny tax.

      There’s the state money that came from the slight increase in the gas tax.

      And there’s the “Carolina Crossroads” project, which I believe is a federal project, and was in the works before one or both of the other two things…

      In other words, the passage of a tax increase regarding one of those things doesn’t logically have an effect on the other two things….

      1. Barry

        the Crossroads project is state and federal money.

        I recall the state setting aside state dollars for the project not long after the increase in the first gas tax started.

        People like a certain local radio host kept whining about not seeing any road work after the increase in the taxes started. Yet, there are hundreds of projects listed on the SC DOT website that have been completed or undergoing work now, or bidding has started.

        For anyone that drives around the state as part of their job (like I do) it’s easy to see dozens of projects being worked on on any given day- some on the interstate (between Columbia and up toward Chapin, etc) – and secondary road projects like roads and bridges.

        The talk show host just didn’t want to acknowledge reality because whining about it on the radio and misleading the audience was more fun I guess.

        “The $1.7 billion project is a part of SCDOT’s 10-Year Plan to bring our state’s infrastructure up to a state of good repair and modernize key portions of our interstates. The 10-Year Plan is funded with a combination of federal and state funds, including funds made possible by the 2017 state gas tax increase. The Carolina Crossroads project is expected to be funded by 90% federal funds and 10% state funds.

    2. bud

      Good lord Doug there is construction EVERYWHERE! Do you never drive a car anywhere? They just finished a big project to widen I-20. And now at least 2 major projects are underway to improve I-26. I-77 is shutting down to make major repairs. And that’s just the interstates. I’ve seen several paving jobs on secondary roads. I’m actually amazed at the amount of work going on. Apparently love isn’t the only thing that’s blind. So are libertarians.

      1. Doug Ross

        Are there completed projects that were done on time and on budget? Show me the list. Then show me the list of those that are late and over budget.

        Hardscrabble road in northeast Columbia has been torn up for years now. There’s a bridge on 321 that has been under construction for years as well.

        Show me the successful projects. It’s easy to list all the work that is under construction. I see that all the time…

  2. bud

    For someone who makes a huge deal about the proper use of words I find it ironic that you insist on incorrectly referring to the Carolina Crossroads with the pejorative expression “malfunction junction”.

    As for the sign, there is a limited amounted of room so an abbreviation was required. The point is to communicate a message not to win a spelling bee.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That was an abbreviation? “Constrution” is a known and accepted abbreviation for “construction?”

      You don’t find that embarrassing? Aren’t you worried that some motorist might misCONSTRUe it? 🙂

      1. Doug Ross

        Leave it to bud to confirm what we all know about the capabilities of the DOT.

        And you did a great job of ignoring my point that there is zero evidence of a single government road project being on time or on budget. What you call a slight increase was hundreds of millions of dollars over the past several years. And the result? More of the same incompetence and waste.

        At least we’re not in California which has the highest gas taxes and yet was rated as having the worst roads in America by U. S. News. Funny how all that extra money never translates into excellence when the government is involved.
        Well, not funny, just expected.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Well, bud already cited ONE example of something that was done right. I’ll leave it to him to answer your question further. I’m not going to take a couple of years off from life to become someone capable of parsing road contracts and passing judgment on their efficacy.

          It’s a silly argument, anyway, talking public vs. private on a function that will only EVER be undertaken by government. The private sector isn’t going to build highways — except as contractors working for the government. That’s the way it is. I’d be fascinated to hear your alternative plan for providing the infrastructure that makes it possible to have an economy in which private businesses can thrive WITHOUT these danged, pesky governments….

          It raises some interesting dystopian scenarios. If we ever do get to a scenario in which it economically feasible for a private entity to provide general infrastructure, that private entity will essentially BE the government, at least within that area. You know, like in the Middle Ages, when the local lord of the manor was over everything. The society in which we live is the product of several centuries of Europeans striving to disengage from that sort of system, and try to build a system in which the things upon which we all depend are controlled, at least indirectly, by all citizens.

          Not that we haven’t moved that way a number of times as technology has progressed. In the 19th century, it was the railroads. And eventually, government stepped in to control the freewheeling mastery of the environment that the railroad barons wielded. Over time, other technologies have asserted similar societal dominance. (Anyone ever see “The President’s Analyst,” in which — SPOILER ALERT — the power behind everything was the Phone Company?)

          Today, we’re engaged in debates about technology that plays a bigger, wider role in our lives than railroads ever did — dominating and reshaping not only how we communicate, but how we think (ones and zeroes). And of course, all that’s in private hands.

          So maybe I should take back my comment about it being dystopian fantasy. We’re dealing with the fantasy now…

          1. Barry

            The general public doesn’t understand the many complexities of road construction, etc..

            I don’t either. The husband of one of my wife’s friends moved here about 6 years ago to work on two major highway projects that are now complete. I asked him once about some of the issues they faced- just in general- and he described to me numerous issues that road contractors face.

            With all that said, there are numerous projects on the SC DOT website that have been completed.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      And bud, I don’t refer to Carolina Crossroads AS “malfunction junction.” I explain to people that Carolina Crossroads is a project to CORRECT “malfunction junction.”

      I say that so that people recognize what I’m talking about, because they don’t know the first term, and they do know the second.

      You say it’s pejorative. But if there isn’t a malfunction at that point in our system, why is all this money being spent?

  3. bud

    I no longer have any contacts at the DOT but the most likely explanation for the Hardscrabble Road debacle is a major financial or legal failure by one or more of the PRIVATE contractors. Ultimately DOT is responsible, but they are at the mercy of the companies who actually do the work. I’m sure supply chain issues played some role. But take a look at the I-20 widening that started at about the same time as Hardscrabble. All the lanes have been open to traffic for many months now. I say give credit where credit is due. Kudos DOT for solving big problems during a difficult time. And thanks to congress and our general assembly for providing much needed funding for these complex projects.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Help me understand, bud — is Hardscrabble DOT, or Richland County? I had thought that was one of Richland’s penny-tax projects. Maybe not.

      Anyway, it’s Richland, and if there’s a problem, then from what we’ve seen, it seems likely that Richland council shares some blame…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, but most roads that penny would go to were “state roads” — seeing as how most roads in South Carolina fit in that category.

          In other states, such as Tennessee where I used to live — local governments tend to control more of the infrastructure. I used to cover a number of county governments there, and the county road departments were a HUGE part of what counties did. Here in the Legislative State, the state asserts a great deal more control. I forget the exact statistic, but don’t we lead the nation in number of state road miles per capita — a phenomenon created by so many roads in other states NOT being state roads…

    1. bud

      That article is from 2021 18 long months ago during the pandemic when everything was shut down. Not very timely especially since Leatherman is dead now. Any fair minded person would acknowledge the amazing amount of roadwork underway.

    2. bud

      I just saw a Facebook post from a former DOT colleague that the I-77 bridge regal project was just completed 24 hours ahead of schedule. Way to go SCDOT!!

  4. Barry

    I don’t think most people here would consider The Nerve injecting anything but their opinion into any discussion.

    That article from Sept 2021 mentions the revenues that DOT had collected and not spent and never mentioned once that a lot of that money was being collected for the match required to start the Carolina Crossroads project.

    I’ve also noticed their articles attacking road construction have mostly dried up since the list of completed projects and the list of current projects has gotten longer and longer.

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