The Arthur Ravenel Bridge reopened around 3 p.m. Thursday, after being closed for several days because of ice.
The bridge will be closed again if conditions become unsafe, officials said.
Crews worked throughout the morning getting the bridge between Charleston and Mount Pleasant ready for rush-hour traffic. Pedestrians and bikers were also banned from the bridge because of the danger of icycles falling from the overhead cables.
Crews worked throughout the morning applying a saltwater solution with calcium chloride to speed up melting of the ice, according to Lee Floyd, state bridge maintenance engineer.
Sheriff Al Cannon took a drive from the Mount Pleasant side over the Ravenel Bridge early this afternoon to test the conditions.
"You have a number of areas that are really slippery. Some are visible, some not visible," he said. "If you are a single car and can stay in the middle and go slow and look for those icy areas, that's one thing. The problem is, if you get a whole bunch of cars on there, they're not going to be able to do that."
Traffic out of Mount Pleasant was stop and go this morning as drivers were forced to use alternate routes. Drivers converged on Interstate 526 in masses, causing traffic congestion to spill onto the westbound lanes of Interstate 26.
Bacons Bridge Road is also closed between S.C. Highway 61 and Dorchester, S.C. Highway Patrol reports.
All other local bridges were opened late Wednesday.
Drivers are urged to use caution and expect delays.
For the first time in years Lowcountry residents have gotten to experience something that is routine in northern climes: salt on the roads and sidewalks.
But does it really work?
Yes, as long as it doesn't get too cold.
Anyone who has made homemade ice cream can see it work. Salt lowers the temperature at which water freezes. So by mixing salt and ice into a brine around the liquid ingrediants for ice cream, which won't freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature drops enough to freeze the ingrediants into ice cream.
On roads it works the same way.
Water normally freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When salt is spread on roads in freezing conditions, it can prevent ice from forming, and can help melt existing ice. However, it it's too cold, the salt won't work. Generally salt is only effective at melting ice down to about 15 degrees F.
So why does salt work so well on roads but not bridges?
Because the bridges are exposed to the outside cold air from all sides, and roads are exposed only on the surface, allowing them to radiate heat longer. Also roads typically are paved with asphalt, which is not a good conductor of heat, meaning the heat stays in longer. Bridges typically are made of steel and concrete, both of which lose heat rapidly.
Cold to linger
Brisk temperatures are expected to linger throughout the Lowcountry over the course of the day, the National Weather Service reports.
Some effects of this week's winter storm remain.
Charleston officials warned of black ice on the peninsula on East Bay Street at the Cumberland and Queen Street intersections. Ice was also reported at the intersection of State and Broad streets.
CARTA resumed routes at 10 a.m. More information can be found online.
Some areas may see an icy drizzle this morning with a slight chance of rain later this afternoon, according to the Weather Service.
Today's highs will be around 40 with lows around 30, the Weather Service reports. Winds will reach up to 15 mph.
Friday: Mostly sunny skies are expected with highs in the mid 50s and lows around 40. Winds will reach up to 10 mph.
Saturday: Mostly cloudy skies are expected with a 20 percent chance of showers. Highs will be in the mid 60s with lows in the mid 50s. Winds will reach up to 10 mph.
Outages and closings
Only 10 SCE&G customers in Charleston County were without power early Thursday morning, and SCE&G officials expected their power to be restored by early morning. Customers can report outages at 1-888-333-4465 and view updates on the outage map on SCE&G's website.
About 100 households served by Berkeley Electric Cooperative n Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties were without power as of 3 p.m. Thursday.
The electric cooperative restored power to nearly 11,000 members over the course of the winter storm.
Those who see downed power lines are asked to call 1-888-253-4232. Members can also visit the cooperative online.
The Charleston Vet Center at 5603-A Rivers Ave. is temporarily closed because of damage from the storm, according to an announcement Thursday afternoon. Veterans who have counselors assigned to them will be contacted by staff. Veterans without counselors who need help can call 1-800-273-8255, option 1.
Charleston Police officer Kyle Miller watches as traffic flows onto the East Bay Street ramp of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge Thursday, shortly after the bridge was reopened. It had been closed since about 8 p.m. Tuesday because of an ice storm.×
S.C. Department of Transportation crews with plows and salt work to clear ice from approaches to the Ravenel Bridge.×
Workers with the S.C. Department of Transportation used a truck equipped with a snow plow to scrape ice off the roadway of the Ravenel Bridge Thursday.×
Traffic creeps along crossing the Don Holt Bridge toward North Charleston. (Tom Spain/Staff)×
Workers with the S.C. Department of Transportation used a truck equipped with a snow plow to scrape ice off the roadway of an approach to the Ravenel Bridge Thursday.×
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