Upstate business leaders are fuming since the legislative session closed without a plan to fix crumbling roads and bridges across the state.
Now, with law makers headed back for a special session next week, the business community is holding their feet to the fire and calling for a road plan before something catastrophic happens.
“Remember, it was a structurally deficient bridge in Minnesota that collapsed back in 2007,” said Allen Smith, Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.
That collapse killed 13 and injured nearly 150 others. That bridge had the same level of disrepair as 884 bridges currently across South Carolina. 79 Bridges are located in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties.
Smith says a collapse could happen here if left untouched.
“We cannot afford to have that kind of situation or catastrophic occurrence in the Upstate or anywhere in South Carolina,” smith said.
This is message Upstate business leaders are sending to lawmakers, hoping for one final push during next week’s special session to get a roads bill passed. Despite options on the table, nothing got through the Senate in regular session that closed last week.
“More disappointing than that, is the overall failure of leadership,” said Smith.
He says it’s unacceptable that what is considered the state’s number one issue didn’t draw enough compromise for a sustainable solution.
“We understand politics and we understand ideology, but now is the time for neither,” said Smith.
Smith says time is running out, especially with an election year just a few months away.
“Unfortunately, raising revenue is not a good way to be elected and with an election year coming, I hope that doesn’t further decrease our chances,” said Smith.
Otherwise, it’s pushed to 2017 and it’s bad news for potential business.
“We’re sending a terrible message to perspective companies that we aren’t interested in funding infrastructure and we can ill afford to do that,” said Smith.
Meaning, companies will find other states to take potential jobs.
“The people if South Carolina NEED jobs and we can’t send negative messages out like this on a national scale,” said Smith.
Smith says if nothing happens next week, they are making it their mission to take public education to a whole new level, reminding the public that, during the 2016 election year, all 170 legislators are up for reelection.