Optimists get update on road work

St. Andrews Optimists recently enjoyed a presentation from Jason Fulmer, District Construction Engineer for South Carolina Department of Transportation.

Fulmer’s geographical area of responsibility consists of Richland, Lexington, Kershaw, Lee, and Sumter Counties. He described the contracting and implementation methods in play, focusing mainly on those projects that involve interstates. SCDOT uses what Fulmer termed a “design build” model. Using that model, the State does not do the actual construction using State equipment and manpower.

Rather, SCDOT identifies a project, describes to the contractor the intended end result, and then leaves the planning and execution to the contractor. The Department has developed a strong working relationship with Archer/United from Atlanta, who is the design build contractor for the projects involving interstates.

South Carolina’s road and highway system ranks Number 4 in the U.S. in terms of total roadway miles. As such, there are ongoing rural roadway safety upgrades in progress. In recent months, the department has improved more than 850 miles of roads and has upgraded 199 bridges. The long-term goal is 7,000 miles of rural roads re-paved.

Recently, all the I-77 bridges of the stretch connecting I-20 to I-26 have been reconstructed. To shorten the time required, DOT used “hydro-demolition,” a process that employs high pressure water and steam to remove old concrete without disturbing the re-bar underpinnings. Design experts refer to the process as high-speed erosion. The bottom line benefit has been to limit the loss of everyday usage of the roadway. The I-77 bridge project included nine northbound sides and eight southbound sides of those bridges.

Gas taxes and Federal funding account for 81 percent of the overall SCDOT budges. As such, the Department’s budget has increased from $1 billion per year to $4.4 billion for 2023.

Pictured are Optimist Club President Larry Blosser, Jason Fulmer, and speaker sponsor Steve Odom. The speaker received a copy of the Optimist Creed.