South Carolina Transportation by the Numbers

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, January 16th, 2015


Executive Summary

South Carolina’s extensive system of roads, highways and bridges provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the Palmetto State’s economy. South Carolina’s surface transportation system enables the state’s residents and visitors to travel to work and school, visit family and friends, and frequent tourist and recreation attractions while providing its businesses with reliable access to customers, materials, suppliers and employees.

As part of its efforts to retain business, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, South Carolina will need to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to South Carolina’s roads, highways and bridges could also provide a significant boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

South Carolina must improve its system of roads, highways and bridges to foster economic growth and keep businesses in the state. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility and quality of life for all South Carolinians. Meeting South Carolina’s need to modernize and maintain its system of roads, highways and bridges will require a significant boost in local, state and federal funding.

Signed into law in July 2012, MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), has improved several procedures that in the past had delayed projects, MAP-21 does not address long-term funding challenges facing the federal surface transportation program. Congress recently approved the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, an eight-month extension of the federal surface transportation program, on which states rely for road, highway, bridge and transit funding. The program, initially set to expire on September 30, 2014, will now run through May 31, 2015. In addition to extending the current authorization of the highway and public transportation programs, the legislation will transfer nearly $11 billion into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to preserve existing levels of highway and public transportation investment through the end of May 2015.

Congress will need to pass new legislation prior to the May 31 extension expiration to ensure prompt federal reimbursements to states for road, highway, bridge and transit repairs and improvements.

An inadequate transportation system costs South Carolina residents a total of $3 billion every year in the form of additional vehicle operating costs (VOC), congestion-related delays and traffic crashes.

  • TRIP estimates that South Carolina roadways that lack some desirable safety features, have inadequate capacity to meet travel demands or have poor pavement conditions cost the state’s residents approximately $3 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, the cost of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion and traffic crashes.
  • TRIP has calculated the annual cost to South Carolina residents of driving on roads that are deteriorated, congested and lack some desirable safety features both statewide and in the state’s largest urban area. The following chart shows the cost breakdown for these areas.

Population and economic growth in South Carolina have resulted in increased demands on the state’s major roads and highways, leading to increased wear and tear on the transportation system.

  • South Carolina’s population reached 4.7 million in 2012, a 35 percent increase since 1990. South Carolina had 3,455,931 licensed drivers in 2012.
  • Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in South Carolina increased by 43 percent from 1990 to 2012 – jumping from 34.4 billion VMT in 1990 to 49 billion VMT in 2012.
  • By 2030, vehicle travel in South Carolina is projected to increase by another 25 percent.
  • From 1990 to 2012, South Carolina’s gross domestic product, a measure of the state’s economic output, increased by 53 percent, when adjusted for inflation.

South Carolina Cost Breakdown


Download full version (PDF): South Carolina Transportation by the Numbers

About TRIP
Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues. TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

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