The Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) provided $9.8 billion to state DOTs to help alleviate the financial impacts of COVID-19 on their programs.
South Carolina received approximately $166 million of this CRRSAA funding, most of which can be used for statewide purposes, with a portion allocated to Transportation Management Areas (TMA).
The SCDOT Commission approved the use of $149.4 million to pay off debt, and SCDOT will encourage MPO/COGs to do the same with their allocations.
SCDOT Deputy Secretary of Finance & Administration, Justin Powell, said that using this one-time funding to pay off debts would best position the agency to achieve long-term goals. Specifically by maintaining a consistent letting and delivery schedule and addressing funding gaps in current plans.
Paying off agency debt would generate approximately $13 million/year that could be used to boost the MPO/COG program. Also, it puts the agency in a better position to deal with large projects on the horizon (i.e., I-526 widening).
“Instead of paying bankers, we can pay construction workers,” said Powell.
The Commission unanimously approved the plan, which directs SCDOT to work with the State Infrastructure Bank and others to pay off all agency debt.
Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall told Commissioners that this was a great strategy because it allowed SCDOT to leverage this “unanticipated one-time funding” into long-term gain.