Work is set to begin Sunday to replace a Moncks Corner bridge after a derailed train plowed into the structure in April, the S.C. Department of Transportation announced Thursday.
DOT has awarded a $3.05 million emergency contract to Cape Romain Contractors Inc. to replace the Cypress Gardens Road Bridge. The contract requires that work on the new bridge be finished by Oct. 25.
"It has been my hope all along that SCDOT would be expeditious in addressing this problem which has caused much hardship for many of our citizens and industries," Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis said Thursday. "As county supervisor, I will do everything within my powers to stay involved and keep our citizens informed as work progresses. I feel everyone has been inconvenienced enough by this unfortunate situation."
The derailment of a CSX train brought down the 78-year-old bridge on April 28. No one was injured in the incident, although a pickup driver was left shaken after he was forced to jump a 15- to 20-foot gap created by the collapse. The fallen bridge also severed a water main.
Water service was restored a day later, but transportation officials determined the bridge was destroyed. Since then crews have worked to remove damaged sections of the bridge and clear the tracks of debris.
The leveled bridge has created a 22-mile detour for the 6,200 cars that crossed the bridge daily. The detour will remain in place while the new bridge is under construction.
The lengthy detour has inconvenienced businesses and commuters. Cypress Gardens has seen a decline in visitors and had some cancellations for parties or receptions as a result of the lengthy route. Some businesses in Bushy Park, including South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., have had to adjust the times of their shifts to address the longer commute for many of its employees. More than 30 people have joined a lawsuit against CSX Transportation that is asking the rail company to pay them for the time and money they've lost since the bridge went down.
The imminent construction of a new bridge is good news for the Bushy Park businesses and their employees, said DuPont spokeswoman Tara Stewart.
"For some folks it's a long way home," Stewart said. "I think it would be great if they can get this done as fast as they can. Our workers will appreciate the 22 miles they won't have to drive."