National research group says South Carolina roads in terrible shape

A national transportation research group says South Carolina roads are so bad, they cost drivers $3 billion a year.

The report from The Road Information Program says 46 percent of the state's major roads and highways are rated in poor condition.

It also says one-fifth of the state's bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete.

Those deficiencies cost each state driver an average of $1,150 dollars a year in lost time and fuel because of clogged roads and crashes, according to the TRIP report.

The TRIP report says congested roads can lead to accidents, and South Carolina is tied with West Virginia for the highest traffic fatality rate in the country.

Former SC Department of Transportation chairman Danny Isaac of Myrtle Beach says the situation may be even worse than the report indicates.

"We have deteriorating bridges, they've outlived their life expectancy and the road system is just atrocious. It's crumbling beneath us," said Isaac.

Isaac says South Carolina has the fourth-most miles of roads to maintain, but the third lowest gas tax of any state.

He says ideally, the gas tax should be double its current 16 cents a gallon, and indexed to inflation.

"As gas moves up (in price), we leave it alone. As gas moves down, we add the tax. You won't feel it at the pump, but you will notice it on the roads," Isaac said.

Current DOT Commission vice chairman Mike Wooten says the legislature and governor don't have the courage to raise the gas tax to what it should be.

"They are concerned about getting re-elected or having someone run against them to use the 'Well, you raised taxes' against them in a future election," said Wooten.

Wooten says North Carolina roads are so much better than South Carolina's that crossing the border is like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz going from Kansas to Oz.

"It's shocking the transition between our border and our neighboring state's borders, the condition of the roads," said Wooten.

The DOT says it needs an extra $1.5 billion a year to get state roads in good condition.