South Carolina Legislature

Department of Transportation

Subcommittee: Economic Development, Transportation, & Natural Resources

Subcommittee Chair: Bruce W. Bannister

Subcommittee Members: Hon. Neal A. Collins, Hon. Mandy Powers Norrell, Hon. Robert L. Ridgeway

Agency Website:

Agency Head: Christy Hall

Study Contact: Wendy Nicholas
Contact Email:

Agency History and Timeline

  • 1915
  • Governor: Charles Aurelius Smith (Democrat) (1915-1915) (not elected)
  • Governor: Richard Irvine Manning III (Democrat) (1915-1919)

  • 1916
  • The Federal Aid Road Act required the creation of a state agency to supervise the construction of road projects financed in whole or in part with federal funds.

  • 1917
  • Against the backdrop of World War I, a State Highway Department was established in South Carolina in 1917, consisting of a State Highway Commission and State Highway Engineer.

  • 1919
  • Governor: Robert Archer Cooper (Democrat) (1919-1922) (resigned)

  • 1920
  • The South Carolina General Assembly approved legislation that, among other things, directed the State Highway Commission to develop a state system of public highways. Originally, the state highway system consisted of only 26 paved miles and approximately 3,000 unpaved miles.

  • 1922
  • Governor: Wilson Godfrey Harvey (Democrat) (1922-1923) (not elected)
  • Five years after the creation of the State Highway Department (1917), the first gasoline tax was enacted. The tax was two cents per gallon.

  • 1923
  • Governor: Thomas Gordon McLeod (Democrat) (1923-1927)

  • 1923
  • Governor: John Gardiner Richards, Jr. (Democrat) (1927-1931)

  • 1929
  • The State Highway Bond Act enabled the state to borrow for immediate highway construction needs.

  • 1931
  • Governor: Ibra Charles Blackwood (Democrat) (1931-1935)

  • 1935
  • Governor: Olin D. Johnston (Democrat) (1935-1939)

  • 1939
  • Governor: Burnet R. Maybank (Democrat) (1939-1941) (resigned)

  • 1941
  • Governor: Joseph Emile Harley (Democrat) (1941-1942) (not elected, died in office)

  • 1942
  • Governor: Richard Manning Jefferies (Democrat) (1942-1943) (not elected)

  • 1943
  • Governor: Olin D. Johnston (Democrat) (1943-1945) (resigned)

  • 1945
  • Governor: Ransome Judson Williams (Democrat) (1945-1947) (not elected)

  • 1947
  • Governor: Strom Thurmond (Democrat) (1947-1951)

  • 1951
  • Governor: James Francis Byrnes (Democrat) (1951-1955)

  • 1955
  • Governor: George Bell Timmerman, Jr. (Democrat) (1955-1959)

  • 1959
  • Governor: Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (Democrat) (1959-1963)

  • 1963
  • Governor: Donald Stuart Russell (Democrat) (1963-1965) (resigned)

  • 1965
  • Governor: Robert Evander McNair (Democrat) (1965-1971)

  • 1971
  • Governor: John C. West (Democrat) (1971-1975)

  • 1975
  • Governor: James Burrows Edwards (Republican) (1975-1979)

  • 1977
  • The agency's name changed to the Department of Highways and Public Transportation. Its responsibilities remained unchanged, except for the addition of responsibilities related to public transportation.

  • 1979
  • Governor: Richard Wilson Riley (Democrat) (1979-1987)

  • 1987
  • Governor: Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. (Republican) (1987-1995)

  • 1993
  • When the General Assembly restructured state government in 1993, the Department of Transportation was established, consisting of the former Highway Department less the Motor Vehicle Division and Highway Patrol.

  • 1995
  • Governor: David Muldrow Beasley (Republican) (1995-1999)

  • 1999
  • Governor: James Hovis Hodges (Democrat) (1999-2003)

  • 2003
  • Governor: Mark Sanford (Republican) (2003-2011)

  • 2007
  • The General Assembly restructured the agency in 2007 with Act 114, which provided, among other things, for qualifications and screenings for agency Commissioners, a Secretary of Transportation appointed by the Governor, mandatory ethics training for employees, a Chief Internal Auditor reporting directly to the Commission, and the prioritization of projects using objective criteria. The objective criteria that would now have to be taken into consideration when prioritizing agency projects include: "1) financial viability including a life cycle analysis of estimated maintenance and repair costs over the expected life of the project; (2) public safety; (3) potential for economic development; (4) traffic volume and congestion; (5) truck traffic; (6) the pavement quality index; (7) environmental impact; (8) alternative transportation solutions; and (9) consistency with local land use plans."
  • The Regional Program Groups (RPGs) were established to improve delivery of programs and projects.

  • 2009
  • Four engineering districts were realigned by shifting two counties (Aiken from District 1 to District 7 and Anderson from District 3 to District 2) in order to distribute district workloads more evenly and enhance the service to the two counties.

  • 2010
  • The Office of Public Transit and the Office of Railroads were established within the Division of Intermodal and Freight Programs.

  • 2011
  • The agency moved the functions of the Office of Administration to the newly created Department of Support Services. The Department of Support Services gained: Customer relations, Communications, Information Technology, Facilities Management, Business Development, and Special Programs.

  • 2012
  • Governor: Nikki Haley (Republican) (2011-Present)
  • The agency restructured Human Resources to add the Director of Human Capital Investment reporting to the Director of HR.

  • 2013
  • In 2013, the General Assembly approved Act 98, which authorized several sources of funding for infrastructure needs. Among other things, it redirected half of the tax revenue collected on the sales of motor vehicles each year to the State Non-Federal Highway Fund to be used exclusively for highway, road, and bridge maintenance, construction, and repair.
  • The agency made the following changes: (1) the Planning Office was realigned under the Division of Intermodal and Freight Programs; (2) the Environmental Management Office was realigned from Planning to report to Chief Engineer for Planning, Location and Design (PLD); (3) the Right of Way Office was realigned from Preconstruction to report to Chief Engineer for PLD; (4) the Preconstruction Resource Management Office was dissolved; (5) the Local Program Administration now reports to the Chief Engineer PLD; (6) obligation Management, Program Controls and Program Applications were consolidated under the Program Controls Division and report to the Chief Engineer PLD; (7) the position of Chief Engineer for Field Operations was created and reports to the Deputy Secretary for Engineering; (8) all District Engineers was realigned to report to the Chief Engineer for Field Operations as well as the Director of Emergency Operations; (9) the Office of Occupational Health and Safety was realigned to report to the Director of Support Services; (10) the position of Director of Strategic Management Planning (SMPC) was established and reports to the Chief of Staff; (11) the Director of Communications was realigned to report to the Director of SMPC; (12) the Asset Management Division was established to meet the requirements of Moving Ahead for Progress 21 (MAP 21); and (13) Intermodal Planning was established by consolidating highway planning with freight and transit.

  • 2014
  • In 2014, Speaker of the House James H. Lucas appointed the Honorable J. Gary Simrill to serve as Chair of the fifteen-member House Transportation Infrastructure and Management Ad Hoc Committee to review issues surrounding the Department of Transportation.
  • The agency made the following changes: (1) realigned Business Development and Special Programs from Support Services to report to the Secretary of the agency; and (2) the Design Build Unit was established in Preconstruction.

  • Sources of Information
  • Department of Transportation's 2015 Annual Restructuring Report
  • Department of Transportation's 2015 Program Evaluation Report
  • Department of Transportation website
  • SC State Library State Documents, Outline History of SC Highway Department 1917-1976, May 18, 1992, 1
  • Act Number 163 of 1917
  • Act Number 297 of 1920
  • Department of Transportation, "The State of SCDOT," click here, 19 (accessed July 14, 2015)
  • Act Number 494 of 1922
  • Act 297 of 1929
  • Act Number 82 of 1977
  • Act Number 114 of 2007
  • SC Code of Laws, sec. 57-1-370(B)(8)
  • SC House of Representatives, Office of Research and Constituent Services, "Legislative Update - Major Issues from the 2013 Legislative Session" under "Publications," under "Legislative Updates," under "Archives," click here (accessed August 28, 2015)
  • SC House of Representatives, House Transportation Infrastructure and Management Ad-Hoc Committee, "Committee Postings and Reports," click here (accessed July 23, 2015)

  • Legislative Services Agency
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