The Big Costs of Bad Roads
South Carolina drivers must contend with any number of hazards while driving on the state’s roads. One of the biggest dangers just might be the roads themselves. Motorists could find themselves facing costly repair bills, and uphill legal battles because of a pothole. As The Post and Courier reported, getting compensation from the state for damages caused by deteriorating roads may be easier said than done.
With 42,000 miles of road, the South Carolina highway system is the fourth largest in the country. Those roads are in need of over $30 billion in repairs. The poor state of this vital infrastructure led to more than 2,600 claims against the Department of Transportation for damages in 2014. However, only 1,424 claims received compensation, totaling $673,000.
A motorist from Dorchester County learned receiving relief after a road defect causes damage can be a difficult proposition. She encountered a pothole while driving to work one morning. Her husband had to leave his job to assist her. Nearly $1,700 of damage was done to her vehicle, and she also injured her neck.
State officials denied her claim because they had no prior knowledge of the pothole. This was in spite of the fact that it had been reported by at least one other person that morning. In total, the pothole was involved in four incidents during the early hours, according to the Dorchester driver.
With such road defects causing financial and physical hardships across the state, fixing South Carolina’s sprawling network of roads would seem to be an obvious priority. However, the Associated Press says arguments over how to fund needed improvements continue to cause delays. Nearly half of the state’s roads are considered to be in poor condition, spurring South Carolina businesses to press legislators to act. Even with that pressure, though, the reluctance of many lawmakers to accept plans that involve tax increases has kept meaningful solutions from going anywhere, according to some.
The Department of Transportation says expanding infrastructure to keep pace with the growing population, and bringing existing roads back up to snuff, would require more than $1 billion each year. Some lawmakers have proposed increasing the gasoline tax for the first time in over 30 years. However, conservative legislators blocked the increase. Instead, a one-time infusion of $400 million will be used to fund improvements. The one-time deal, which will cover just a single year, has been heavily criticized.
Doubtless those in the halls of government will continue to argue over how to restore South Carolina’s roads to good health. In the meantime, motorists should remember to be extra vigilant for road defects when driving. It is crucial to report any hazards noticed to the proper authorities as soon as possible. Doing so could make the difference if a claim needs to be filed with the state.