INTERSTATE IMPROVEMENT: Governor, lawmakers and other officials celebrate new widening of I-26 project


State officials say this is something they have heard from South Carolina residents for many years.

Tuesday morning, a step towards improving the state’s interstate system celebrated a groundbreaking.

“We’re booming. We had a budget surplus this year,” said Gov. Henry McMaster.

Governor McMaster and lawmakers have stated that improving the state’s infrastructure, especially roads, has been a priority when it comes to spending South Carolina’s budget surplus. The governor was at a groundbreaking event for the widening of I-26 in Berkeley and Dorchester counties. 

“These rivers of commerce have been clogged for some time. We’re going to unclog them,” said Sen. Larry Grooms, a Republican from Berkeley County. 

Construction of I-26 dates back to 1957. Since then, the population growth of South Carolina has become too much for the state’s infrastructure.

“Since that time, traffic has increased,” said Christy Hall, South Carolina Secretary of Transportation. “This 70-mile long stretch of South Carolina’s interstate network has at times been plagued with congestion… delays and accidents.”

“This route is literally the central nervous system of the state of South Carolina for tourism, commerce and commuters,” said Rick Todd, South Carolina Trucking Association president. 

Hall says the widening of I-26 from Irmo to Little Mountain is also ahead of schedule and causes minimal impact to commuters.

“That 25 miles of widening above Columbia on I-26 will tie into the Malfunction Junction fix  and the widening of 26 down to Charleston,” Hall said.

The state’s investment into the widening project will speed up the completion date. This is good news for trucking companies who travel through South Carolina on I-26. 

“This will help companies address the supply chain challenges and help them get products to market faster,” said Bob Morgan, president of South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. 

House speaker Murrell Smith admits that fixing I-26 is overdue but believes the years of construction will be worth the investment. 

“It’s taken us a while but our infrastructure is going to be first class,” Rep. Smith said. “It’s going to drive the economy here in South Carolina.”

The estimated completion date for the entire project is 2034.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation Reports that 22 million vehicles travel on I-26 per year.

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