Originally created 12/21/06

Across South Carolina



Panel's vote might speed work on road

COLUMBIA - Work on a dangerous stretch of U.S. Highway 17 in Beaufort and Colleton counties may be accelerated under a decision by the Transportation Commission.

The commission voted Tuesday to negotiate a contract with the project's lowest bidder immediately so widening of the road in Beaufort County can begin.

There have been at least 33 deaths on a 22-mile stretch of U.S. 17 between Gardens Corner in Beaufort County and Jacksonboro in Colleton County since 1997.

The State Infrastructure Bank in June denied the Transportation Department's request for a grant for the project, but agreed to loan $93 million to widen the Beaufort County segment, considered a higher priority.

Possible candidate plans visit to state

OKLAHOMA CITY - As he considers a run for the presidency in 2008, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating plans to visit with Republican party officials in South Carolina, which holds the first primary election in the South.

A South Carolina GOP official said the meeting would be private but that party activists who want to listen to Mr. Keating, 62, would likely attend, The Oklahoman reported from its Washington bureau.

The meeting was to be held Wednesday.

"As with anyone considering a serious bid for the presidency, South Carolina is a place any candidate will want to come," South Carolina Republican Party spokesman Rob Godfrey said.

Embattled official on leave until retirement

COLUMBIA - Embattled state Transportation Department director Elizabeth Mabry will be on sick leave until the end of the month, when her resignation takes effect.

Ms. Mabry stepped down Tuesday amid claims her agency wasted millions of dollars. The state Transportation Commission agreed to pay the state's retirement system about $40,000, which will allow Ms. Mabry to retire Dec. 31 with full benefits.

A Legislative Audit Council report released last month questioned the department's spending.

Governor will seek funds for road to port

COLUMBIA - Gov. Mark Sanford said Wednesday that he wants $100 million in the state budget next year to start construction on a road that would link a new port terminal in North Charleston with Interstate 26.

The State Ports Authority plans to build a new terminal at the old Charleston Navy Base that would be capable of handling three ships simultaneously.

Mr. Sanford said he would seek $177 million to complete the road in future budgets.