I-95 Corridor Authority Stirs Controversy
State House expected to address governor's veto in January.
All four Republican legislators present at the Dorchester County legislative delegation Tuesday voted in favor of creating the multi-bodied Interstate 95 corridor authority, composed of representatives from the counties along the interstate, including Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
Conservative groups question the legislation, vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Nikki Haley on the grounds that it unnecessarily grows government, but overridden by the Senate. The legislation will be voted on in the House in January.
Sen. Larry Grooms, who represents Berkeley County and parts of Dorchester County, addressed questions Tuesday, while the two representatives on the delegation said they would keep an open-mind about changing their votes.
"I-95 is the least developed in the state (in terms of surrounding infrastructure to support industry)," Grooms told Patch. While addressing the audience, he referred to the corridor as "the corridor of shame," something many have named the location due to its low socio-economic status in comparison to the rest of the state.
The area has potential to grow, in other words.
Many industries look within 1,000 feet of interstate to locate, but also require a one-million gallon a day water line, which no South Carolina county along the corridor can supply, Grooms said.
Grooms conceded that the conservative groups opposing the legislation have a point.
"It's creating another layer of government," Grooms said. But he argued a state-created agency would force the counties to cooperate instead of compete to gain resources.
While counties can create such a body, he said the likelihood of that would be slim, especially between Dorchester, Berkeley and Orangeburg counties that have battled for an inland port for years.
He said it was best that this representative agency was "birthed by legislation" so the counties would work together on providing shared infrastructure. He likened the authority to the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, which was not spawned from state legislation but regional efforts.
Prior to both state bodies passing the I-95 corridor, citizen input had been overwhelmingly positive, according to the legislative delegation.
"It's frustrating that these concerns did not cone up before we voted," Dorchester County Sen. Mike Rose said. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
Dorchester County Chair Larry Hargett reported to the delegation that for every one person who supports the corridor legislation, two oppose it currently. Prior to the votes, Dorchester County Council members had approached the delegation in favor of the authority.
Linda Ensor of LowCountry 9.12 told Patch that the conservative group will meet with Representatives Jenny Horne and Chris Murphy Tuesday to discuss opposition to overturning the governor's veto.
The override of Haley's veto has passed the Senate and will now go before the House in January, possibly as the first item to tackle, according to Grooms.
"I'm doubtful it will become law at this point," Grooms said. "It wouldn't hurt my feelings (if it did die)."