South Carolina has paid about $40 million since 2010 to settle road claims and lawsuits against the state Department of Transportation, with much of that money going to settle cases involving damages caused by potholes.
The State newspaper in Columbia reports that the number of claims has averaged 2,600 over the past two years, up from 1,600 a year on average during the four preceding years. More than half the claims against DOT since 2010 have been for damage caused by potholes.
In the 2005-2006 budget year, the state paid $4.3 million to settle claims against DOT. Costs reached $8.2 million in 2014. Pothole-related claims also are on the rise, growing to 1,761 in 2015 from 960 in 2010.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are debating how best to fix South Carolina’s crumbling roads and bridges with Gov. Nikki Haley backing a Senate plan to spend $400 million on roads.
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But that’s not nearly enough money to fix the roads since DOT estimates it would cost an addition $1.2 billion a year for nearly three decades to bring the state’s roads and bridges to excellent condition, said Ted Pitts, president of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce.