Drivers ignore closure on busy Little River road over weakened culvert

Grand Strand

LITTLE RIVER, SC (WBTW) – There was confusion on a busy road Friday afternoon, as drivers ignored closed signs for a small bridge considered structurally unsafe.

Sally Watson and her husband Richard moved along state highway 57, or Wampee Road, just before the Carolina Bays Parkway, or South Carolina Highway 31, opened.

She says traffic has grown a lot in those 17 years.

“It took it about two or three years to pick up,” Watson said. “People have realized they can get from North Carolina to 31 a lot faster than going through Little River. We call it the Little River bypass.”

Traffic isn’t usually as bad as it was in front of her house Friday. It happened after the state Department of Transportation said a culvert over Bellamy Branch is structurally unsafe and closed the small bridge at around 2 p.m. Watson says she saw someone move two “road closed” barricades and traffic went over the weakened culvert for about an hour, before the barricades were back in place.

She called state Highway Patrol about what was happening and says she even took down that person’s license plate number.

“On either end of it, like Worthams Cut Off (Road) and on (state highway) 111, the barricades didn’t tell the folks which road was closed, so there was a lot of confusion,” said Watson.

News13 even caught one man moving a barricade, but about a minute later, he decided to put it back, although the “road closed” sign is facing the wrong way.

Watson says she hopes this incident shows the need for improvements to the so-called “Little River bypass.”

“Luckily enough, they have approved a traffic light to go just down here at the intersection of 111 and 57,” she said.

Watson says an SCDOT worker told her the culvert and this stretch of Wampee Road will be closed for three to four weeks.

If you drive on Wampee Road, you’ll have to take a roughly three-mile detour on state highway 111 and Worthams Cut Off Road.

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