Detours set for Ravenel Bridge

Nighttime closure of ramps and lanes that are part of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge will happen for four days starting Sunday to allow maintenance and repairs, officials said Thursday.

The detours also will happen Oct. 14-17.

The bridge maintenance and repair work from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. will mean detours of the East Bay Street and Morrison Drive on-and-off ramps and the Coleman and Johnnie Dodds boulevards off-ramps. Lane closures on the bridge will also happen, said contractor Infrastructure Corporation of America.

Bridge traffic will still flow during the work, but motorists will follow routes delineated by barricades, cones, signs and flashing arrows.

James Law, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Transportation, said workers will put epoxy sealant on ramp decks.

“It’s just a top seal to protect the joint where the concrete meets,” he said.

The work is being done under warranty and will be paid for by the contractor.

“It’s on their dime. It’s not on ours,” he said.

Meanwhile, state bridge maintenance engineer Lee Floyd said equipment used to inspect the bridge deck has been shut down because of safety concerns.

Overall, the bridge is fine, but Floyd said his concerns about a rolling catwalk, called a traveler, that workers use to inspect the underside of the deck prompted him to shut it down.

“We don’t need it to do any inspection now,” he said.

“For safety reasons we locked it down,” he said. “It’s basically a design issue. We can’t take a chance on anybody getting out there and getting hurt.”

Floyd said the issue is with motors that power wheels at each end of the catwalk. The engines are not synchronized so wheels turn at different speeds. He is concerned that the problem could cause a wheel to slip off a rail.

The Mississippi transportation department is facing a similar problem, he said.

The traveler system was supplied to S.C. DOT as part of the construction of the Ravenel Bridge, he said.

Floyd said he has an improved design for such a system in mind that he is inclined to recommend to a qualified company.

“We can fix anything. It’s just a matter of money,” he said.

The traveler is not a warranty matter but a “pure design issue,” he said.

“We should have time to get at least a temporary fix in place. It’s not critical. The bridge is behaving like it should,” he said.

The Ravenel Bridge is one of North America’s longest cable-stayed spans. It opened in July 2005.