South Carolina gets $275M to help repair bridges

Grand Strand

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Hundreds of millions of dollars from the infrastructure bill will be headed to South Carolina to help fix hundreds of bridges across the state.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation said the nearly $275 million will bolster its fight against aging bridges falling into disrepair.

Thousands of cars take Highway 501 into Conway daily and cross the Waccamaw River on a bridge that is, right now, deemed to be in poor condition.

“It’s one of the most heavily traveled bridges there is,” Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught said. “Listen to the trucks and stuff go over it and watch it shaking around and look at all the rust and all the metal and everything that’s under there and all. And if it’s rusting on the outside like that then look at what all the rebar and everything else is doing.”

SCDOT said each of the state’s more than 8,000 bridges are inspected every two years. Drivers in the area are hopeful repairs to the bridge on Highway 501 over the Waccamaw are made soon.

“I think if it’s in that poor condition, then it needs to be addressed,” James Cabanaw said.

“The traffic and the poor conditions and because Busbee Lake has endured what it has endured, the roads are the way they are until it’s fixed,” Vanity Simmons said.

Another bridge in poor condition sits on Main Street in Conway. Statewide, there are more than 400 bridges in poor shape. SCDOT said it has started to address the issue aggressively in 2017.

Justin Powell, deputy secretary for finance and administration with SCDOT said the bridges are looked at strategically.

“We look at it based on traffic volumes and our primary focus is dealing with load restrictions,” he said. “So basically bridges that have been posted that vehicles of a certain size could not pass over that bridge, and so that’s our emphasis right now.”

Vaught said when it comes to the bridge on Highway 501, the state and county have to look beyond immediate repairs.

“I’m glad the money is coming to fix that bridge, because like I said it’s a disaster waiting to happen, but we need to look further down the road too,” Vaught said.

Vaught is a proponent of the Lake Busbee Bypass Project, which he said would ease some of the stress on Highway 501 and the bridge.

SCDOT did not share a timeline on which upgrades could start on the bridge.

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