Heavy Rains Wash Out SCDOT’s Emergency Budget - WSPA.com

Heavy Rains Wash Out SCDOT’s Emergency Budget

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This summer's heavy rainfall didn't just wash out roads and bridges. It washed out the South Carolina Department of Transportation's Emergency Fund. This summer's heavy rainfall didn't just wash out roads and bridges. It washed out the South Carolina Department of Transportation's Emergency Fund.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -

This summer's heavy rainfall didn't just wash out roads and bridges. It washed out the South Carolina Department of Transportation's Emergency Fund.

"We're going to be stretched thin," said SC DOT District 3 Contract Engineer Ryan Dannelly.

SC DOT's "extraordinary maintenance" budget has run dry just two months after the start of the new fiscal year.

It budgeted $2.2 million into that emergency reserve pot, but weeks of nonstop rain caused $5.9 million of damage across the state -- 65 culvert pipe repairs, 15 busted bridges and 106 wash-outs.

“Nothing bad can happen from here on out,” said Dannelly.

If any new emergencies pop up, like buying extra salt if there's a snowy winter, local DOT maintenance units will have to dip into their regular operating budgets to pay for it.

Dannelly said that means cutting back on some day-to-day projects.

“Major repair on roads -- trying to redo it so we don't have to come back to that road for a couple years -- that'll go out the window. You know, a lot of times we have to cut a mowing cycle," said Dannelly.

It’s a big concern for Greenville driver John Burkhead.

“I drive a truck for a living, supervising a bunch of guys. So their lives are at stake out there when the roads are bad and in conditions like that. And that puts their family at stake because they provide for their family,” said Burkhead.

SCDOT State Maintenance Engineer David Cook said it's hard for departments to find something to cut that doesn't create a safety concern. He said the state's infrastructure is depleting faster than SCDOT can afford to fix it -- and this summer's rains have only made it worse.

The most expensive rain damage in the state is the bridge on Highway 160 that collapsed last month over Six Mile Creek in Pickens County. SCDOT’s estimate to repair it is $1.8 million. Cook said South Carolina applied for federal emergency relief funds to fix it. He expects the state will be fully reimbursed for the repairs.

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