COLUMBIA, S.C. — Trains, planes and automobiles are about to get a big upgrade here in South Carolina.
President Joe Biden signed the new $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday, after weeks of debate and back and forth about how to spend the money. The move means some $6 billion is headed to the state, according to South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn's office, potentially translating to more jobs and help for the ways good and services move around the state.
Specifically, the bill calls for over $4 billion for state highways, $161 million for airports and over $500 million for our ports.
Scott Adams, a business professor at Columbia International University, said that help is needed.
"We've got Michelin making tires in Lexington," he said. "They've got to get those tires to the port. We've got Volvo making cars. They've got to get those tires to the port and BMW is in the Upstate. They're far away from a port. They've got to get goods, parts and their automobiles around the country, including to the port."
The 2021 South Carolina Infrastructure Report Card, put out by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gave the state a D+ for it's current state of infrastructure. But South Carolina officials knew this money would likely get approved and have been taking action.
"We were somewhat visionaries I suppose early on, in passing the initial task to get projects shovel ready and now when the federal money comes along, these projects are now at the top of the list because they're either in progress or ready to go," Adams said.
The clock has been ticking on major highways across the country, including the lifelines of business in South Carolina, Interstate 26 and Interstate 95.
"You usually design bridges for about 50 to 75 years of service, so a lot of those bridges are just going today to the end of their lives," said Juan Caicedo, the department chair for civil and environmental engineering at the University of South Carolina.
Clyburn said last week another key component will be rural broadband access. The pandemic exposed major gaps in service and access in the state, especially for children trying to remote learn as schools were closed.