S.C. DOT plans to replace four weight-restricted bridges in tri-county area

The bridge over Meggett Creek is one of 90 bridges that need to be replaced in South Carolina. Four of those spans are in the tri-county area.

The state Department of Transportation has proposed that four load-restricted bridges in the tri-county area be replaced as part of a $250 million statewide plan for 90 new spans in 33 counties.

Greenville County, which has 10 weight-restricted or closed spans, is at the top of the bridge replacement list that the DOT released Tuesday. Sumter County is next with eight spans followed by Cherokee County with seven.

At the top of the local list is a bridge on S.C. Highway 165 that spans a tidal creek near Meggett. It is restricted to 10 tons. “We’re pretty desperate to get that bridge done,” said Meggett Town Councilman Matt Zender.

The bridge has been weight-restricted for more than a year. Because of the weight limit, trucks hauling steel to Metal Trades Inc. take a detour on Wilson Road, he said.

“The heavy trucks are just tearing up that road. It was never intended to handle that kind of weight. A lot of people are complaining,” Zender said.

He said that a new bridge is also needed because of the weight of emergency vehicles such as firetrucks.

“I’ve talked to the DOT about this. It is causing a lot of problems,” he said.

The proposal for 90 new bridges goes before the DOT Commission at its Dec. 5 meeting. Contracts for the projects will be awarded between fall and spring of next year, said DOT spokesman Pete Poore.

The state share of the bridge replacement work is $54 million. The federal government is funding the rest of the work, Poore said.

Other area spans on the list are the state Secondary Road 32 bridge over Cypress Swamp in Berkeley County, which has a limit of 33 tons. Also included in the proposed plan is a 10-ton-limit bridge over Cow Tail Creek on state Secondary Road 49 in Dorchester County and a 33-ton-limit bridge over an unnamed tributary of state Secondary Road 122 near Summerville.

Overall, there are 13 bridges with weight limits in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.

The DOT is accepting public comment on the proposed bridge replacement projects through Nov. 6 at http://www.scdot.org/inside/public_comment.aspx.

“It is anticipated that initial construction contracts will be ready for late spring (2014) and continue through the fall,” Poore said in an e-mail.

The program focuses on bridges that can be replaced on existing alignment using “pre-cast voided box bridges” with minimal approach work. The replacement bridges are assembled in sections, which cuts down on construction time. “You don’t have to build it from scratch,” Poore said.

“It is precast sections that are mechanically tied together to form a structural slab unit that can span 20-to-70 ft.,” he wrote in an email. “ Multiple spans can be configured. The voids save weight while still maintaining high strength and serviceability.”