The Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) has approved the Low Land Rapid Transit (LCRT) project to enter the start-up engineering phase of its Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. A planned 21.3-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the South Carolina Lowcountry will serve one of the fastest growing regions in the United States.
The LCRT is governed by a four-party intergovernmental agreement that includes the Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG), the South Carolina Charleston County Transportation Authority (SCDOT), and the Charleston Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA).
“Our beautiful state is the 10th fastest growing state in the nation and the Charleston metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing areas in South Carolina. Revolutionary Low Country Bus Rapid The Transit project has the potential to improve quality of life and reduce congestion in Charleston and North Charleston,” said SCDOT Executive Director Christie Hall.
The maximum federal funding for this project is currently set at $375,060,506, or 60% of the current project cost. Local project funding matches come from his 0.5 cent sales tax in Charleston County. Once approved to move into the engineering phase, BCDCOG will have automatic pre-arbitration authority to cover various reimbursable project-related costs, such as engineering activities and vehicle purchases.
“FTAs must evaluate proposed projects against a number of criteria to ensure that prospective grant recipients demonstrate their technical, legal and financial capacity to implement their projects. BCDCOG meets these criteria,” said Ron Mitchum, Executive Director of BCDCOG.
The project will also be South Carolina’s first mass transit infrastructure investment and will run parallel to Interstate 26 from Rhine Street and Haygood Avenue to Exchange Park/Fairgrounds.
“Lowcountry Rapid Transit has gone down in history and says something about our region. This is the first mass transit infrastructure project and an important step closer to reality,” said CARTA Chairman Mike Seekings.
LCRT Strategic Leaders Partnership Committee Chair Steve Dudash added: We applaud his project partners for bringing the LCRT to this point and are united in their continued support. ”
Next steps for the project
Stakeholders procure an engineering design firm as the next step in the process conducted through the SCDOT procurement process. Design work is expected to begin in early 2023.
LCRT entered the New Starts Project Development phase in October 2019. The engineering phase is expected to last approximately two years. The project will then be reviewed for approval to execute the full funding agreement and enter the construction phase with a start date of 2028.
“Engineering entry is an exciting development made possible by the hard work of many people across the region, but there is still much more to achieve. Charleston County Council Speaker Teddy Pryor said.