Swing span arrives, Ben Sawyer renovations begin

By Matt Horton bio | email

Sullivan's Island, SC (WCSC) - The new swing span for the Ben Sawyer Bridge arrived on location Thursday morning.

The 650 ton, 40 foot wide and 250 foot long span was floated down the Cooper River from the former Navy Base in North Charleston Thursday morning.  The old span will be replaced  between February 6 and February 16.

The section of Ben Sawyer Boulevard that intersects the bridge will be closed; drivers are encouraged to use the Isle of Palms connector for access on and off Sullivan's Island.

"It benefits the contractor as well as the island residents to do [the construction] as quickly as possible," said James Law, Department of Transportation representative.  "So quickly is what we're going to do."

The $32 million federally funded project was originally scheduled for December, 2009.  Due to scheduling conflicts with the contractor the project had to be pushed back to its current time said Law.

"We'll have a crew that is working on the roadway itself, a crew that is working on the approaches to the bridge, and a crew that will work on the actual hook up and take down of the old bridge."

Law says the renovations are the first since the bridge opened in 1959.  Apart from a new structure, the bridge will boast two 14 foot traffic lanes, as well as a five and a half foot pedestrian bridge on the harbor side.  Final construction will commence at the end of May.

"I think the final result will be worth it all," said Sullivan's Island resident Denise Clark.  "I'm excited.  This is history."

The old bridge will be floated back to the former Navy Base in North Charleston.  There, according to Law, it will be dismantled and used for parts.

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