Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sen. Larry Grooms on the DOT bill

Now’s the time to really fix SCDOT (Sen. Grooms represents parts of Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester counties)

When’s the last time you sat idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic while your valuable time ticked away? Or were late to your destination because of poorly timed and uncoordinated traffic lights? Or slammed into a seemingly bottomless pothole and rounded a bend only to hit the brakes because of road construction?

You’re not alone. You and I and South Carolina’s 1.8 million other commuters see every day the unprecedented growth and change our state is experiencing. And as the Palmetto State grows and changes, so too must our system of roads and transportation change to meet our needs.

Yet as a recent independent audit shows, our state Department of Transportation seems trapped in the good-ol’-boy mentality of yesteryear. The Legislative Audit Council found the Transportation Department spent millions on certain road contracts without ensuring the most qualified contractor received the job. There was no evidence of how DOT negotiated contract prices; the department’s history with one engineering firm raised “questions of favoritism and ineffective management of resources” and the Transportation Department paid about twice as much as necessary to hire temporary employees, “mostly former SCDOT employees.”