(WSPA) – The South Carolina Department of Transportation held a town hall for towing companies in Cherokee County Thursday to address some of their concerns with how things are being handled on I-85.
At least 16 towing companies were represented and almost all of them agreed- their biggest concern right now is losing business.
After the last town hall with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, many new safety measures were implemented on I-85, like updated traffic cameras, rumble strips, additional signage, an increased presence of law enforcement, and even cuts in the chute’s walls.
But there are still wrecks and back-ups that go for miles.
“We’re one distracted driver away from death and destruction along this interstate,” Sen. Harvey Peeler said.
That’s why SCDOT started a contract with an on-site wrecker to get things cleared up as fast as possible.
“We don’t want any wrecks, but, when we do have wrecks, our main priority needs to be to get those lanes re-opened as quickly and as safely as we can,” Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said.
SCDOT says 12 companies applied. They awarded a six-year contract to Revelation Towing out of Spartanburg County in January.
“The DOT had an open state-wide legal solicitation. Everybody in this room was available to bid on it. We did not have a single person from Cherokee County on that list.”
Many Cherokee County tow companies are upset about it, saying they’re losing business here at home.
“Everybody in here should have the opportunity to get out there and tow a car if it’s broken down, wrecked, or whatever. and, at this point, it’s a disaster, as far as I’m concerned,” Scott Patterson, of Patterson’s Wrecker Service said.
“All these services here do this for a living and you’re taking money out of mouths and from our families.”
According to the contract with SCDOT, Revelation Towing is to clear any disabled vehicles from the side of the 85 and take them to a designated staging site. After that, it goes to the next tow company on the highway patrol’s rotation list or the owner of the car’s request.
Revelation is not to charge any drivers or solicit money in any way.
Some wreckers claim Revelation has charged and is taking customers from them, violating the contract. SCDOT says they’ll look into that.
“If there is any charging from the side of the road to the staging area, I need to know about, because Revelation would be in violation of the contract,” Leland Colvin with SCDOT said.
“I will forward this information to the inspector general and ask the inspector general to do a review to verify compliance or noncompliance with the contract. I heard him direct his subordinates to make sure that that rotation or owner’s choice is used going forward, no questions whatsoever.”
SCDOT says they can add new tow companies to their contract twice a year. The next opportunity for tow companies to bid will be on Dec. 2.
Many tow company owners asked SCDOT to find new ways to advertise opportunities like the contract that was signed with Revelation Towing, saying they weren’t aware of it.