US Department of Transportation

FHWA PlanWorks: Better Planning, Better Projects

Project Name: Southern Connector
C03 Project ID: 50
Project type: Connector
State: SC
Topic Supports: Integrated Programming and Fiscal Constraint Application

The Southern Connector was constructed through a major public-private partnership to facilitate industrial and commercial development by opening up rural farmland in the Upstate Region of South Carolina. It was also meant to provide an alternative interstate route around Greenville and a commuter route into the downtown. A partnership was formed between the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) and Interwest Carolina Transportation Group, LLC, a development team that included a not-for-profit corporation called Connector 2000 Association, Inc. (C2A). The project was implemented as a toll road due to the shortage of funds available from the State Transportation Improvement Program. While SCDOT owns the road, C2A operates it under a fifty-year license and is responsible for financing, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining the road during this period. Since this was a public project, a creative financing mechanism in the form of tax-exempt bonds sold by C2A was used. Tolls are used to repay the bonds and to maintain the facility. No tax dollars are used to support or operate the facility.

The project opened in 2001 during an economic downturn, so the growth in development has been slow. The development of land and infrastructure around the Connector is currently being facilitated through partnerships between the County and private developers in an effort to attract the type of private investment that the business community needs. The private sector worked in collaboration with SCDOT and Greenville County agencies responsible for planning and economic development to plan the location of highway interchanges and zone the land around them.