Social media push urges drivers to get involved to fix SC roads - FOX Carolina 21

Social media push urges drivers to get involved to fix SC roads

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Bumps and potholes along roads across the state have been years in the making and they seem to only be getting worse.

One South Carolina lobbying group is now hitting social media for help to get lawmakers to better fund the Department of Transportation.

The South Carolina Alliance to fix our roads is on Twitter and Facebook, looking for pictures from drivers about just how bad roads in the state are. They're also encouraging everyone to contact their local senators.

The alliance's chairman, Eric Dickey, believes most people in the state would be willing to support small increases in fees, whether on gas, drivers' licenses, or sales tax in vehicle sales.

Dickey is an engineer who works closely with South Carolina's DOT. He said the department is doing all it can with what it's given from the state's budget, but it needs $1.4 million dollars more each year to get where it needs to be.

"The thing that I don't want to happen is, I don't want to lose a major industry. I want to maintain the industries we do have. I don't want industries to leave because of our infrastructure crumbling. And I don't want somebody to have to pass away or have a fatality because of a bridge collapse. We shouldn't have to get to that point," explained Dickey.

Furman business professor Tom Smythe said that it was Gov. Nikki Haley who shut down past proposals for increases.

"Last year when the two senators proposed the increase in the gas tax, Gov. Haley basically said, ‘it's dead on arrival. We're not going to raise taxes in any way shape or form.' The reality is that's the most common way and probably one of the most fair ways, because we all use the roads. And not only do we all use them, we all benefit from their use," said Smythe.

Smythe and state Sen. Mike Fair agree that along with road safety, better roads mean less chance for wrecks plus less need for car maintenance. They said solid infrastructure is crucial to keep enticing businesses to the state.

"We need new roads if we want to continue to develop our economy the way we want it to. We also need maintenance on our roads if we expect new businesses to come into South Carolina and their 18 wheeler shipping their products, hopefully exporting their products," said Fair.

Fair thinks that a user tax is an investment into the economy. He explained that an increased sales tax for vehicles isn't a reliable source of income for the state. But that a higher gas tax, even a small one that keeps South Carolina's gas prices below the rest of the country, would help with state budget planning and build the revenue that the Department of Transportation badly needs.

"We can't keep kicking this can down the road and expect good things to keep happening. We're pretty close if not already at the crossroads and we can't experience industrial growth in South Carolina without providing the infrastructure," said Fair.

Any vote on an increase will not be this year since the state legislature is almost coming to a close. Fair thinks it needs to come next year, though. Smythe believes most of the General Assembly would need to support the increase, in case they need to vote down any veto from the governor.

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