Funds for road improvements are allocated by SCDOT through the Guideshare Program. The S.C. Transportation Commission sets aside approximately $114 million dollars of FHWA and SCDOT funds each year and distributes the money among the state’s ten MPOs and Councils of Governments based on population and vehicle miles of travel in each region. The Guideshare sets the annual budget for highway improvements within each MPO or COG, and total project costs in any given year normally cannot exceed the Guideshare apportionment.
Road improvements may include constructing new roads, adding traffic lanes to existing roads, constructing paved shoulders, installing traffic signals, constructing sidewalks or bike lanes, or making safety improvements. Major maintenance improvements may also be included, such as resurfacing a road. However, minor maintenance activities such as patching potholes are not funded through GPATS, but are handled directly by SCDOT maintenance units.
GPATS’ apportionment from the Guideshare Program is $17.6 million annually. Of this amount, approximately $3.7 million per year is devoted to debt service. SCDOT developed an innovative financing plan in 1998 to accelerate construction of many projects that were built between 1998 and 2007, and issued bonds to fund the plan. Debt service payments will continue though 2022 to retire the bonds that were issued to fund the accelerated construction program.