Post Tagged with: "SCDOT"

County Government Year Ending with a Bang

December 5, 2018 5:25 AM
County Government Year Ending with a Bang

Normally local governments are in a holiday lull between Thanksgiving and the first few days of the New Year, but that has not been the case this year.

Last week’s fall budget retreat for Horry County Council saw lively, spirited debate on providing money for I-73 and the Horry County Solid Waste Authority’s (SWA) proposed new Solid Waste Management Plan. The debates among council members were only opening salvoes in what I predict will prove to be two high profile issues in the coming year.

The vote of county council members last week gave county staff the go ahead to enter into a contract with SCDOT to plan for expenditures on the I-73 route in Horry County. There is absolutely no justification to commit $25 million per year, bond that amount for 20 years for approximately $350 million in operating capital, only to construct a road that will end around Hwy 917 and the Marion County line.

Unless and until the state and federal governments are willing to commit serious money, at least a combined billion and a half dollars to I-73, it is not a serious project and we should not be wasting county money on a freeway to the rural hinterland.

After nearly 30 years of existence, it is time for the SWA to understand it was created to manage the disposal of the county’s solid waste in the most cost efficient, healthy and environmentally friendly manner.

This does not mean continued, mindless expansion of the Hwy 90 landfill in an environmentally sensitive area and at an ever increasing cost to county taxpayers.

The SWA was specifically charged in its establishment ordinance “to develop an acceptable alternative method of solid waste disposal and to reduce the tonnage of solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills due to the County’s high water table and other geologic characteristics that make utilization and expansion of existing landfills and the development of new landfills especially expensive and difficult.”

The proposed plan calls for continued horizontal and vertical expansion of the existing landfill footprint with spiraling costs. It is time for council to conduct its due diligence before voting on the proposed, new plan.

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International Drive Delay SCDNR Fault

February 11, 2016 12:03 PM
International Drive Delay SCDNR Fault

The delay in completion of International Drive can be laid directly at the feet of SC Department of Natural Resources.

I saw where a local media outlet attempted to get information on bear population in the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve from the SCDNR recently, only to be told the documents sought would cost $133.64.

Many South Carolina governments and their associated agencies attempt to hide behind the clause in the FOIA law that allows them to charge requesters for the cost of providing the informatiion. They frankly hope the cost won’t be paid and the information will stay secret.

Our own Horry County Solid Waste Authority is one of the worst transgressors.

But, this response to a request that has direct bearing on the continuing delay over permitting for International Drive was to be expected.

Specifically, SC Department of Natural Resources officials have, seemingly, intentionally held up finishing and paving the road bed of International Drive for over 10 years.

Initially the SCDNR attempted to keep Horry County from even considering expanding International Drive from its original dirt track through the woods into a passable, two lane road because of alleged red cockaded woodpeckers supposedly nesting in the right of way.

It was ludicrous, but underneath lay a bigger problem – for whatever reason, SCDNR did not want the road built.

After several years of being stalled, the county managed to solve problem by changing the position of the International Drive right of way to avoid the alleged woodpecker habitat.

As the county got into serious planning and acquired the funds to complete International Drive, SCDNR shifted its concerns to black bears in the woods near the road. This included forcing the county to plan for bear crossing tunnels underneath the road, raising the cost of construction and further delaying the start.

This SCDNR roadblock was, again, ridiculous. By this logic, most roads in Horry County, at least west of the waterway, should include bear crossing tunnels.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. James Vaught, a strong supporter of the International Drive project, asked a meeting of Horry County Council the question, “Where is a black bear going to cross the road?” He provided the answer in his own inimitable style, “Any damn where he pleases!”

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SC Republican Leader Seeks Infrastructure Debate

May 27, 2015 8:08 PM
REPUBLICAN MAJORITY LEADER SEEKS ROAD DEBATE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In an attempt to address the State’s pressing highway infrastructure issue, Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler moved to deviate from the Order of business in the S.C. Senate to consider the roads bill. There were several attempts to prevent that motion by members of the democratic caucus, despite earlier statements that roads were their priority. However Senator Peeler’s motion prevailed stopping the current filibuster for the day. By doing so, the Senate gave third reading to the Pain Capable Bill, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks and began debate on the much anticipated bill regarding highway infrastructure.

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Sen. Tom Davis and SC Roads

May 23, 2015 7:02 AM
Sen. Tom Davis and SC Roads

Sen. Tom Davis, filibustering the Capital Reserve Fund bill (H 3702), talked much about roads this week.

Second reading of H 3579 is waiting on the SC Senate calendar behind two other contested bills, but a Davis filibuster this week of the reserve fund bill may give some indications of things to come for roads.

It appears one goal of the Davis filibuster is to defeat an increase in the state gas tax.

Davis criticized past decisions by SCDOT and the State Infrastructure Bank. But, including CTC’s in any decision making on road maintenance doesn’t work. While county governments would be tasked with maintaining their own current road network plus any additional roads dumped by the state, the CTC works independently from county government in 36 of the state’s 46 counties.

Davis’ solution is to dump state roads on counties, give a little more money to an independent committee within those counties and have the state essentially wash its hands of responsibility for approximately 50% of the roads it has not maintained throughout the years.

All in the name of not raising taxes.

This demonstrates the problem of electing people to public office who have no clue how to govern. An ideology of not raising taxes while passing fiscal problems down the line to the next lower government entity doesn’t work.

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Citizens Alliance Pushing Fix for S.C. Roads

January 21, 2015 8:00 AM
Citizens Alliance Pushing Fix for S.C. Roads

A citizens’ alliance is pushing S.C. General Assembly members to fix S.C. roads before the infrastructure collapses completely.

The S.C. Alliance to Fix Our Roads (SCFOR) is increasing online efforts to make the peoples’ voices heard in Columbia.

With the new legislative session just underway, SCFOR hopes to increase grassroots efforts contact state and local leaders to demand a plan to fix our roads.

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No TIGER Grant for Interstate 73

September 16, 2014 6:00 AM
No TIGER Grant for Interstate 73

Interstate 73 was not among the list of TIGER grant recipients announced late last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The S.C. Department of Transportation had requested $30 million to widen the shoulders on S.C. 22 to bring the road up to interstate standards so it could be redesignated I-73.

The USDOT didn’t think the project worthy of funding. Except for a few members of the local legislative delegation and a few tourism leaders, neither does anyone else.

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Former CEO Myers Rollins Sues Coast RTA, Others

June 19, 2014 8:15 AM
Former CEO Myers Rollins Sues Coast RTA, Others

Myers Rollins, former General Manager/CEO of Coast RTA, filed suit Tuesday against the agency he headed before being fired April 30th.

In addition to Coast RTA, Rollins is suing SCDOT, Coast RTA board members Bernie Silverman and Kitty D’Angelo, Horry County Council members Mark Lazarus and Gary Loftus, SCDOT employees Doug Frate and Hart Baker and interim Coast RTA General Manager Julie Norton Dew.

Rollins is seeking five million dollars in compensatory damages as well as punitive damages to be determined and reinstatement as GM/CEO of Coast RTA.

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Forgery Uncovered in Coast RTA Review

May 8, 2014 6:30 AM
Forgery Uncovered in Coast RTA Review

A letter from SCDOT that purportedly removed Coast RTA from being designated as a “High Risk Agency” is apparently a forgery, according to a follow-up letter from SCDOT.

Dated October 11, 2011, the letter, allegedly from SCDOT Deputy Secretary Hart Baker to Coast RTA General Manager Myers Rollins, states, “I have rescinded the letter (designating Coast RTA as High Risk Agency) and removed the Waccamaw Regional Transportation Authority’s designation as a “High Risk Agency”…”

In replying to a request for validation of the October 11, 2011 letter, SCDOT Director of Intermodal and Freight Programs Doug Frate sent a letter to Coast RTA board chairmen Bernie Silverman dated May 2, 2014. The letter said in part, “Please know that I have been informed that this letter was neither signed by or for Mr. Hart Baker, nor did it originate from the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT).”

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Select Committee Recommends Continued Funding of Coast RTA

May 6, 2014 6:00 AM
Select Committee Recommends Continued Funding of Coast RTA

The Select Committee on Coast RTA voted unanimously to recommend to county council that funding of the bus agency be continued with additional controls.

That decision was made at the committee’s fourth and final meeting Monday night. The recommendation was adopted by committee members along with 20 findings of fact about the failed shelter project and suspended intermodal center project.

Failure, especially of the shelter project, falls predominantly on poor program management at Coast RTA with some blame also attributed to the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study (GSATS) and SCDOT, according to the findings.

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Coast RTA Fires Myers Rollins – Updated

April 30, 2014 9:45 AM
Coast RTA Fires Myers Rollins – Updated

BREAKING NEWS By Paul Gable By a vote of 6-2, the Coast RTA board of directors fired General Manager Myers Rollins this morning. Board members Lily Jean Johnson and Ivory Wilson voted to oppose the firing. The Coast RTA board has been struggling with difficult issues concerning management leadership over […]

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