A new website is asking for your opinion on the condition of South Carolina roads and bridges and will pass your thoughts along to state lawmakers in hopes they'll take action.
"I think it's important for legislators to hear from their constituents," says Bill Ross, executive director of the South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads, which put up the website, http://www.fixscroads.com/
The site asks you fill in the blank: "South Carolina roads are _________."
"Horrible," says driver Michelle Leitner.
Rick Whittle says, "The worst in the Southeast, and I traveled across Florida and Georgia recently so I know."
The SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads is made up of more than 100 members, including 37 local chambers of commerce, 17 statewide associations, tourism groups, and farm groups, all of which are concerned about the condition of state roads and bridges and how that affects safety, economic development, and quality of life.
The group is hoping public pressure will get lawmakers to act, which will be difficult for several reasons. 1. It's an election year, and in a state that almost never raises taxes, it would be extremely difficult to get lawmakers to vote for a tax increase in an election year.
2. Many lawmakers have signed pledges that they won't raise taxes, so even if they believe a tax increase is needed, they can't vote for it without breaking their pledges.
3. Gov. Nikki Haley has promised to veto any tax increase, which makes lawmakers reluctant to vote for one unless there's enough support to override that veto.
The financial problem is that the state DOT says it needs an additional $1.5 billion dollars a year to bring roads and bridges up to a level considered "good." The only way to get that much additional money would be to raise taxes or fees.
Ross says even raising the state's gas tax by 10 cents a gallon would bring in only about $300 million more a year, which would help but is still far short of $1.5 billion.
"The legislature's just going to have to deal with it because this issue is just too important to South Carolina citizens and the tourism industry and economic development. It's just too important not to deal with," he says.