February 29, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

Readers Relay Adventures on S.C.’s Roads

road construction

Widening roads where no drivers will appreciate it

The topic that fills our in-box more than any other is roads. That’s true every year, but it has been especially so in 2015.

Earlier this year, of course, a majority of state lawmakers expressed support for a tax increase allegedly for road funding. Not only that: The great majority dismissed all suggestions that the current funding system should be made more accountable to taxpayers before lawmakers dump more revenue into it. That brought a slew of emails about corruption, mismanagement, secrecy and unaccountability at our transportation agencies. Many of these tips developed into stories (this is one of our favorites).

Some of these emails, though, weren’t meant so much as tips or leads as just excuses to rant and complain about South Carolina’s awful roads. Here were two we found particularly good.

Not long ago I drove out of my driveway and around the corner and noticed a manhole with its lid ajar. It looked extremely dangerous. If your wheel dropped into it, you’d do terrible damage to your car and probably couldn’t get out without a tow truck.

We live within the city limits of ( … ), so I called the city. I finally got through, but the guy told me that road isn’t owned by the city; it’s owned by the county. He said I was free to call the county, which was nice of him. So I did. That took another 20 minutes, because of course it’s never clear who has the requisite authority. I finally got in touch with a lady who said she could help. I told her about the manhole, she keyed something into her computer, and then told me the county didn’t have authority over that road. The state did.

The state? Yep, the state.

It’s a little cul-de-sac in a neighborhood well within the city limits, but it’s a state road. Yes, she told me.

I asked, Shouldn’t it be a city road? She said probably so, but it’s a state road, and the road that connects to it is a city road.

She said she would call the state for me, which I appreciated. But the manhole is still ajar. That was three days ago. I’ll keep you posted.

Then there was this, a complaint with which we are highly sympathetic.

I was on the way to Myrtle Beach on Highway 378. This road always makes me laugh. Why? Because although there are no cars on it, much of it is newly paved and four lanes. Especially the part that goes through Florence County.

This last time really got me, though. SCDOT is widening the whole thing, from Turbeville to Conway. There are cranes, steam rollers, all kinds of heavy equipment that looks like it costs billions, massive piles of earth, materials for the building of new bridges, presumably to replace the old ones. There are about one million orange and white cans to mark off the right car paths.

But you know what you don’t see along that stretch of highway? Cars. I have never, repeat never, driven on that road when the traffic was anything other than sparse or moderately busy. There’s just no need for all this.

What is the point?

We don’t know what the point is. Maybe the Department of Transportation or the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank can fill us in.

  • Send your tips or stories – or just complaints – at news@thenerve.org.
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