Tolling on new I-73 advances in South Carolina

| 2/1/2006

The South Carolina Senate has approved a bill that would make the state’s newest interstate highway a toll road.

Senators voted Thursday, Jan. 26, to allow the South Carolina Department of Transportation to impose and collect tolls on Interstate 73 to cover the planning, construction, operations and other costs until it recovers what it spent on the project, The Associated Press reported. The amount of tolls and number of toll booths has not been determined.

The southern stretch of I-73 will connect the Conway Bypass to Interstate 95.

The effort was sidetracked a week ago when Senate Democrats Brad Hutto of Orangeburg and John Matthews of Bowman called for adding a provision that would place toll booths on I-95 to help pay for upgrades on the road.

Hutto put a block on the bill until the provision could be added.

South Carolina rules allow a legislator to block consideration of a bill indefinitely, unless a two-thirds majority forces the measure to a vote, The State newspaper in Columbia, SC, reported.

Hutto later backed off his stance, although he still wants to toll I-95. “We’re just going to do it on a standalone bill,” Hutto told The AP.

The I-73 bill – H4422 – must gain final approval in the House before heading to Gov. Mark Sanford’s desk.

Joel Sawyer, a spokesman for Sanford, said the governor is in favor of tolling I-73 to get it built more quickly.

However, Sawyer said the prospects of tolling I-95 are not good. Sanford “would be absolutely against a toll on an existing road,” he said.