Westbound lanes of the Wando Bridge are expected to be closed for at least four weeks for temporary repairs, according to South Carolina Department of Transportation officials.
The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon after transportation experts from the state and Florida toured the interior of the bridge and inspected a snapped 4-inch in diameter 1,000-foot cable.
The damaged cable was found Monday afternoon during a routine inspection; a replacement cable has already been transported to the bridge.
Even though westbound lanes of the bridge remain closed, the eastbound lanes, which have stayed open since Monday, are expected to remain open.
During a press conference on Wednesday, SCDOT officials said they expect to re-open westbound lanes on June 11.
Authorities say the permanent repairs will start immediately after the temporary repairs are done.
According to SCDOT officials, the permanent repairs can be done with the bridge fully open.
With the expected traffic struggles that have been occurring in the Lowcountry and are expected in the future due to the closures, state and local government officials say they are looking to implement plans to reduce those traffic headaches.
SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall said her department is going through a number of ideas including running both directions of traffic on the eastbound lanes.
According to SCDOT, crews are working in three major areas with the first analyzing what exactly happened to cause the cable to come apart.
Hall said crews are also working to clearly develop and implement a repair plan to get the bridge reopened as quickly as possible.
The third item crews are focused on is working to make traffic flow better throughout the area.
Mount Pleasant police say they are doing everything they can to reduce travel time in the areas affected including having officers controlling stoplights as needed, with the focus on primary routes.
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Gov. Henry McMaster said repairs to the bridge would not be a quick process.
Hall echoed McMaster’s statements regarding repairs being done quickly.
Detours, schedule changes in place to help alleviate traffic
Deputy Secretary for Engineering Leland Colvin said Monday the SCDOT set two detours to help keep traffic moving around the closed bridge.
The first detour takes drivers from Highway 17N to Highway 41, then to Clements Ferry Road and back to I-526. The second goes from 17S across the Ravenel Bridge and out to I-26 westbound.
Mount Pleasant Police have been diverting westbound traffic on I-526 to Longpoint Road, according to Mount Pleasant Police Inspector Chip Googe. No traffic will be allowed onto I-526 westbound from Longpoint Road, he said.
The Daniel Island Ferry is also running a commuter schedule. Click here for tickets.
The South Carolina Ports Authority has also announced adjusted gate times for the Wando Terminal because of the traffic:
- Full gate operations: 3 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- Reefer hours 6 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Full gate operations: 6 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Normal reefer hours at WWT only (8 a.m. – Noon).
- Full gate operations: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- No reefer gate operations.
On Wednesday, the gates will open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., close from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and reopen from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. When gates open on Wednesday, truckers are advised to stay off the approach roads to the terminal including Long Point Road until the gates open.
Snapped cable discovered Monday morning during ‘rigorous inspection’
Colvin said the bridge, which is used by 35,000 cars daily, a segmental box bridge consisting of concrete blocks held together by cables. It is the only such bridge in the state, he said.
He said the SCDOT implemented a rigorous inspection program for the bridge after a damaged cable was discovered in the same location of the snapped cable in October 2016.
The bridge, which connects Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island, opened to traffic in 1991.
It was designed by FIGG Bridge Engineers, according to their website. FIGG is the same company that built the 950-ton pedestrian bridge that collapsed on March 15 on the campus of Florida International University.
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