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April 22, 2017


Hey SC: It’s Time To Widen I-95

by Anne Paddock

According to, South Carolina is the second deadliest state to drive in  – nearly 1,000 people (3 per day) were killed in 2016 and this is not sitting well with South Carolinians or the people traveling through the state who blame road conditions.

People in South Carolina have been making their views heard in a variety of creative ways including hiring planes to fly banners that say “Fix the Damn Roads” over the State House to forming alliances (Fix South Carolina Roads) to address the poor conditions of the roads. But, it’s not just potholes and deteriorating asphalt, it’s the inability of the highways to handle the amount of vehicles on the roads.

I-95 is the longest north-south/south-north interstate in the United States with nearly 2,000 miles of interstate highway  passing through 15 states but it’s the 198 mile stretch through South Carolina that’s making drivers crazy as of late. Don’t even think about driving this stretch on a weekend, especially holidays although weekdays are now becoming just as bad with bumper to bumper traffic for miles. More often than not, the slowdown is not because of an accident (although there are plenty of accidents on this stretch) but because the two lanes of traffic going in each direction are not enough to handle the number of vehicles. Forget about driving on the right and passing on the left. It’s a total free for all that results in a slow-moving parking lot for hours in both directions.

By way of history, the construction of I-95 through the state of South Carolina began in 1962 and was completed in 1978 with four lanes, two in each direction. For the past 39 years, I-95 has remained virtually unchanged in South Carolina.  In 2003, the highway was widened in the northern part of the state to six lanes in the Florence area just south of I-20 (mile market 160) to just north of SC 327 (mile marker 170). The problem is the 160 miles of roads south of Florence to the Georgia border in both directions. The 3 lane road in each direction in Georgia shrinks to 2 lanes in South Carolina causing a bottleneck that creates massive traffic backups in the lanes heading north.

So, why hasn’t I-95 been widened in South Carolina? The state certainly has the land to widen the interstate as evidenced by the wide medians. There are many reasons but they all point back to money. Critics have written that South Carolina does not want to do anything that benefits Georgia economically or waste money on people passing through. The problem with that argument is this:  most drivers are not commuters that travel from South Carolina to Georgia for work; and drivers passing through use hotels and restaurants along the way which generates significant revenue for business owners (and the government through taxes). And, let’s not forget the South Carolina resorts along the coast (Hilton Head, Seabrook Island, Kiawah Island, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and more) where many people vacation or have second homes.

So, who is responsible for widening an interstate highway?  The answer is often difficult to determine but in most cases, the responsibility is the state’s Department of Transportation working in conjunction with the federal government. In South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is responsible for building and maintaining roads and bridges and administering mass transit services.

The SCDOT is a department in the Executive branch that reports to the South Carolina Transportation Commission, composed of eight members, seven of whom are elected by the legislative delegations of each of the state’s Transportation Districts. These Transportation Districts coincide with the state’s Congressional Districts. One at-large member is appointed by the Governor. The members of the commission include 8 men (7 white, 1 black), whose e-mail addresses are listed below:

  • Woodrow “Woody” W. Willard, Jr., 4th Congressional District (
  • John N. Hardee, 2nd Congressional District (
  • David E. “Gene” Branham, Sr., 5th Congressional District (
  • Ben H. Davis, Jr., 3rd Congressional District (
  • Samuel B. Glover, 6th Congressional District (
  • Clifton Parker, Governor’s At-Large Appointment (
  • Robert D. “Robby” Robbins, 1st Congressional District (
  • Mike Wooten, 7th Congressional District (

In January, 2017, the SCDOT reported that the widening of I-95 to 6 lanes would cost $4 billion but it will be years before the state has enough money to complete the project. Many have suggested raising the gas tax since South Carolinians and travelers though the state enjoy some of the cheapest gas in the country (as low as $2.09 for unleaded regular last week). The current tax is 16.75 cents per gallon and the proposal is to raise the tax to 26.75 cents per gallon over five years which is projected to generate about $600 million per year according to The State newspaper.

So, what can you do? There are several options including e-mailing the commissioners above to lodge a complaint, call the Governor’s office (803-734-2100), or go to a Facebook page (FixSCRoads) or their website: and request I-95 be widened.

*Photo credit of traffic jam: Dick n’ Debbie’s Travels

*Photo credit of I-95 Map:

  1. Mist
    May 29 2019

    Cutting down trees on I-95 didn’t do nothing! The only solution is widening the Interstate to 3 lanes each direction, Not waste money.

  2. Nick in NC
    May 20 2019

    Can’t they count in SC? Or can’t read the numbers at DOT?
    Even by their website:..

    I-26 two lanes 30,800 cars/hr I-95 two lanes at GA line 57,000 cars/hr.

    Sadly, it would be to their benefit to widen as Feds pay 80-90%

  3. Nick in NC
    May 20 2019

    Yes, plus any money in that gas savings disappears as you have to buy a $8 bottle of Tylenol and possibly the co-pay at the psychiatrist. I can’t imagine how they are deciding to wait so long. Now they are widening i-26 out of Charleston.

  4. Mitch Gordon
    May 19 2019

    I’m wondering if the email contacts are still valid. I have a house in TN and have been driving between South Florida and TN for 15 years and SC highways are miserable. I’m sure whatever i save on gas I’m burning up stuck in traffic

  5. Randy Craig
    Dec 30 2018

    For years we have been traveling on I95 from NJ to FL, and it is always a given that SC will be backed up and the road riddled with potholes. Why undergo a multimillion dollar safety project to the median when the highway is in dire need of widening and repairs? Why destroy trees and the natural habitat of so many animals, if SCDOT is only going to install safety cables and plant some grass? Seems like a waste of taxpayer money when, inevitably, the road will have to be widened in the future.

  6. Bill Beerman
    Sep 18 2018

    95 is through SC is dangerous….slow….potholes…20 years behind in upgrading. This is a job being overseen by LOSERS.

  7. Jerome Phillip Levy
    Sep 4 2018

    Why not put up signs at exit 97 in Santee directing southbound traffic to use US 301 to Florida. It is a very underutilized four lane highway thoughout SC. Maybe call it the Florida Scenic Route. This would bring some much needed revenue from tourist into small SC towns such as Orangeburg and Bamberg and might reduce the heavy traffic on I-95.

  8. Jun 22 2018

    If you think that 95 is bad in South Carolina.. You should go to Charleston SC.. Those roads are worse..

  9. Nick in NC
    Mar 30 2018

    Although I-81 in PA is probably worse, at least they have a reason, the cold freezes the mountain water under the interstate. however, they are repairing theirs. SC has just given the finger to the traffic going through their state.

  10. Nick in NC
    Mar 30 2018

    long overdue. Widen it to four lanes each direction, because when you finish it, surprise it will still be too small. ( see Georgia). Cheaper to build it now than go back and tear off bridge edges and move ramps a second time.

    Currently they are planning and designing widening I-20, I-26 and I-85 (85 is 20 miles).

    Wait on that project and fix i-95.
    Money? How about your lax gas tax. Add 20cents and it will be same price as other states.
    Cigarette tax, lowest too… Add $2 per pack. Money will roll in.

  11. Linda C
    Dec 27 2017

    I have traveled all over the United States, from coast to coast. I-95 in South Carolina is the worst.Traveled I-95 yesterday. The road needs to be widened and resurfaced. The South Carolina 10 year road improvement plan does not include this. If you have to travel this stretch of interstate just remember to be ready to slam on your brakes, sit in one spot, and deal with impatient travelers.I have vowed to never travel this stretch of I-95 again.

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