South Carolina residents (and visitors) count on the roads they drive on to be reasonably safe. This means that the roads need to be well-designed and they need to be maintained so that dangerous road conditions do not cause collisions.
Unfortunately, South Carolina residents may be facing more dangerous roadways soon, as The Post and Courier reports that road projects are expected to dip in numbers. The reason for the decline in construction projects is a funding crisis on the federal level as Congress is unable to agree on how to raise cash to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from running out of money.
If construction projects stop and roads are not properly maintained, those who are harmed by poor road conditions will need to understand their legal rights. Victims of auto accidents in South Carolina may pursue a lawsuit against negligent parties, but pursuing a claim against a government agency is difficult. It is important for those who have been hurt to speak with an accident lawyer who can help them maximize their chances of obtaining full and fair compensation.
S.C. Highway Funding in Trouble
Since 1956, the Highway Trust Fund has provided money from the federal government to assist South Carolina and other states in maintaining interstate highways and doing necessary construction projects. Unfortunately, as infrastructure is aging and more projects need to be undertaken to keep the roads safe, the Trust Fund is also facing serious shortfalls.
The Federal Highway Trust Fund is supposed to receive its funding through federal fuel taxes. However, a more fuel-efficient vehicles and people driving less have resulted in a revenue shortage.
This has created an imminent funding crisis, and the South Carolina deputy secretary for finance and procurement told The Post and Courier that by the middle of August, the SC DOT may have to interrupt its normal operations. This means that road construction and improvement projects could dip in numbers and some projects could stop altogether.
If funding is halted, federally-supported construction will not begin as normal in the fall in South Carolina. Further, state-level projects could also be halted as state funds are reallocated to complete federal projects that are already underway.
The situation is being called an “extreme crisis,” both because it is unclear if the federal government will be able to get funding together in time for fall projects to start and because South Carolina does not have sufficient funding on a state level to fall back on. While some states pay out of pocket for projects and are reimbursed by the federal government biannually or annually, South Carolina needs to be reimbursed weekly because local highway funding is not sufficient to cover the costs of construction projects.
It remains unclear whether Congress can come to an agreement or even whether the highway bill will be renewed when it expires September 30. In the meantime, South Carolinians need to be aware that their roads may not be maintained as well as they should be, increasing the risk of auto accidents and injuries.