Gas tax, vehicle fees increase July 1

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Beginning July 1 you will pay more at the gas pump as the tax in South Carolina will increase by two cents for the next six years.

This increase is the first of its kind since 1987, and is designed to repair the poor rural road and bridge conditions in South Carolina. A recent study by the National Transportation Research Group says South Carolina has the most deadly back roads in the country, with 10% of rural road in “poor condition.”

The road bill that goes into effect Saturday is the state’s response to those deadly problems. Officials with the South Carolina Department of Transportation say they plan to invest $50 million to the rural road safety program, for “high risk roads.”

“Over the next six years you’ll see a slow, steady grow in the amount of roadwork we are doing all across the state,” assures Christy Hall, South Carolina Secretary of Transportation. “We will be focused primarily on a ‘fix it first’ approach, where we are addressing the rural road safety and repaving [or] resurfacing our roads.”

Also included in the bill is another fee for people who purchase a car in South Carolina. A maximum $500 fee to register newly purchased cars will begin Saturday. The amount you owe is based on the price of your car, but previously, the max fee was only $300.

SCDOT officials say this money will go for dangerous back roads as well as widening lanes and repairing bridges. These increases are predicted to being in $600 million a year.

Emergency res ponders in the Pee Dee say the repairs to roads in rural areas are not only badly needed for better daily travel, but improving the roads and bridges could actually help decrease the response time of firefighters and ambulances.

“Bridges in bad condition creates barriers for us,” says Ryon Watkins, Florence County Director Emergency Medical Services. “We may not be able to travel the direct route from where we are to where the scene of the emergency is. So the legislator being proactive and putting money towards repairing bridges will be good for us.”

Not all the money will be spent on this rural road project.  SCDOT hopes to widen interstates, pave more roads and just create a better, safer road network in the future. Click here to see a full list of the roads on the Rural Roads Project.