FTA Advances Lowcountry Rapid Transit Project in CIG Program

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has approved the Lowcountry Rapid Transit (LCRT) project to enter the Fresh Starts Engineering phase of its Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. Planned 21.3-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) system in South Carolina’s 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), Charleston County, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), and the Charleston Area Regional Transit Authority (CARTA ).

“Our beautiful state is the 10th fastest growing state in the nation, with the Charleston metro area being one of the fastest growing areas in South Carolina. The innovative Lowcountry Bus Rapid Transit project has the potential to improve quality of life and reduce congestion for Charleston and North Charleston,” said Christie Hall, Secretary of SCDOT.

The maximum federal contribution to the project is now set at $375,060,506, or 60% of the current project cost. Funding for the local project is committed from the Charleston County half-cent sales tax. With approval to enter the engineering phase, BCDCOG has automatic pre-award authority to incur various reimbursable project-related costs, including engineering activities and vehicle purchases.

“The FTA is required to assess proposed projects against a number of criteria and ensure that potential grant recipients demonstrate the technical, legal and financial capacity to implement the project. BCDCOG has met these thresholds,” said BCDCOG Executive Director Ron Mitchum.

The project will also be South Carolina’s first public transit infrastructure investment and will parallel Interstate 26 between Line Street and Hagood Ave. to Exchange Park/Fairgrounds.

“Lowcountry Rapid Transit is a story in the making, which says a lot about our region. LCRT is truly new ground – here and throughout South Carolina. This is the state’s first transit infrastructure project, and it’s now a significant step toward reality,” said CARTA President Mike Seekings.

Steve Dudash, Chair of the LCRT Strategic Leaders Partnership Committee, added, “The region’s private sector leaders have long recognized the importance of Lowcountry Rapid Transit and its transformative potential. We commend the project partners for bringing the LCRT to this point, and we stand united in continued support.

What’s next for the project

Stakeholders will engage an engineering design firm as the immediate next step in a process to be undertaken through the SCDOT procurement process. Design work is expected to begin in early 2023.

The LCRT entered the development phase of the New Starts project in October 2019. The engineering phase is expected to last approximately two years. After that, the project will be reviewed for execution of the full funding grant agreement and permission to enter the construction phase, with an opening date of 2028.

“Entry into engineering is an exciting development that has been made possible through the hard work of many people across the region, but there is still much more to be done. We thank the community for their support and partnership in helping to make the LCRT a reality,” said Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor.

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