Proposed Plan Could Pave the Road to a Better Future

September 29, 2021

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a $1.2 trillion federal investment to improve U.S. infrastructure, has passed the Senate and will move forward to the House of Representatives on Thursday, September 30, 2021. The Act was originally scheduled to be voted on Monday, September 27, 2021. The IIJA provides the opportunity to enhance the country’s deteriorating infrastructure while simultaneously boosting the economy.

The IIJA could be the most impactful investment in American infrastructure in our lifetime with $550 billion in new infrastructure funding to repair and rebuild bridges, improve safe and sustainable transportation, expand the network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, bring rural America into the 21st century with reliable high-speed internet, ensure clean drinking water for millions and prepare our infrastructure for climate change, extreme weather and cyberattacks.

While the Palmetto State is the 10th fastest-growing state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, our infrastructure is struggling to keep up with the increasing toll of growth. If passed, South Carolina is estimated to receive more than $6 billion to invest across the state. ACEC-SC has advocated for a proactive plan to address critical infrastructure, broadband and water needs across South Carolina as our population continues to increase. The IIJA provides a real opportunity to address these concerns in all areas of the state.

As the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) stated in its 2020 Annual Report, 43% of the state’s primary roads rank as “poor,” as well as 11% of the state’s interstates. Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation, South Carolina ranks fourth in the nation for on-road fatalities per 100,000 population. The state should expect to receive $4.6 billion to invest across the state. According to SCDOT, an estimated increase from $733 million in FY 21 to $1 billion in FY26. While SCDOT has made significant strides in improving our roads and bridges across the state, the addition of the funds from the IIJA will allow them to do more.

Many of the state’s largest cities, including Columbia, have public water systems (PWSs) dating back to the 1940s and 1950s with a life expectancy of 75-100 years. An estimated $510 million for South Carolina’s water infrastructure is included in the IIJA.

Additionally, the state would receive $100 million to expand the reach of broadband across the state. Throughout the pandemic, nearly half a million South Carolinians struggled without access to high-speed internet as work, school and even doctors’ visits went virtual.

South Carolina is also estimated to receive an additional $161 million for airports, $70 million to expand the network of EV chargers, $366 million for public transportation and a combined $33.3 million to prevent the impact of climate change, cyber-attacks and extreme weather. The new investment will go on to create thousands of jobs nationwide, including many new engineering projects in South Carolina.

The historic bipartisan proposal would enhance the quality of life for all South Carolinians as we continue to feel the daily effects of underperforming and overtaxed infrastructure systems.

As engineers and those responsible for ensuring the effective design, safety and implementation of these systems, ACEC-SC feels that the passage of the proposed infrastructure plan would create a hopeful and exciting future for our state, creating new opportunities, jobs and improving the overall quality of life.

ACEC-SC encourages South Carolinians to contact their respective Congressional representatives – Congresswoman Nancy Mace in SC 1, Congressman Joe Wilson in SC 2, Congressman Jeff Duncan in SC 3, Congressman William Timmons in SC 4, Congressman Ralph Norman in SC 5, Congressman Jim Clyburn in SC 6 and Congressman Tom Rice in SC 7 – to voice their support for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Matt Gehman
Chair, ACEC-SC Board of Directors
Vice President, TranSystems