South Carolina will make significant improvements and changes in both public transportation and infrastructure thanks to nearly $72 million in transit funding from the bipartisan federal infrastructure law. This law, the largest investment in public transportation in American history, will give the Palmetto State the financial ability to repair aging infrastructure. The updates are expected to focus mainly on environmental impact mitigation, sustainability, and safety in urban areas.
The federal investment will undoubtedly greatly improve daily life for South Carolina residents. With its current transit infrastructure rated a concerning D+ by the American Society of Civil Engineers — more than 1,700 bridges in poor condition and nearly 7,300 highway miles in disrepair — there are many changes on the horizon. The state will use the money for a myriad of projects, each designed to help the state operate more sustainability and with greater resilience toward changes to the climate.
Funding is critical in a state where hurricanes, tornados, flooding, and high heat are all reality. South Carolina will use the monies to adapt to newer and more sustainable infrastructure technologies to address the root causes triggering many of these extreme weather events.
An important goal is to ensure the state can handle a severe weather event and that it has a reliable, robust infrastructure to recover from one.
The recently-developed South Carolina Transportation Plan emphasizes reducing congestion, interstate system repairs, and transportation alternatives to reduce carbon emissions. The state’s funding includes additional money for projects related to transportation-related emissions on federal roadways.
One important focal point of the funding is the expansion of healthy, sustainable public transportation options. In South Carolina, residents who use public transportation spend an extra 50% of their time commuting.
This time disproportionately affects marginalized households, who are four times more likely to use public transportation options. Nearly a fifth of public transportation vehicles are seriously outdated in the state too. The incoming funding will allow transportation agencies to buy new railcars and buses, repair older cars, and adapt systems to the latest technologies related to the climate crisis.
South Carolina will also use additional money from the federal infrastructure law to improve its drinking water infrastructure and expand its broadband access. Today, nearly 20% of households do not have an internet provider due to the home being too far from service or the high cost. The state will also build new, more sustainable power lines for more reliable electric services. These power grid improvements will reduce fossil fuel pollution and fortify the grid against severe climate events.
The bipartisan infrastructure law isn’t just benefitting South Carolina. More than $20 billion in federal funding is heading across the U.S. for transit updates. The law is expected to spur job growth and significantly increase American manufacturing for new public transportation projects.