NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation says it plans to complete a switch to two-way traffic on the eastbound Wando Bridge in time for Monday morning's rush hour.
SCDOT Traffic Engineer Rob Perry said existing detours will remain in place even after the two-way traffic flow is put in place.
"The big thing we want to announce today is that we're also going to open the Wando Bridge to two-way traffic," Perry said. "That's something that we will have fully operational Monday morning by peak flows in the morning on Monday. We hope to have it working some by Sunday afternoon so we can make any adjustments we need."
SCDOT Deputy Secretary for Engineering Leland Colvin said their target time to complete the traffic changes and begin two-way traffic is Sunday at 2 p.m.
In the meantime, Perry said raised delineators, 30-to36-inch-tall high-density plastic, will be spaced along the center lanes of the eastbound bridge to separate the two directions of traffic.
The plan involves reducing westbound traffic coming from Mount Pleasant ahead of the Wando Bridge to a single lane and down to a work-zone speed of 45 mph. Traffic will then move across a paved crossover onto the eastbound Wando Bridge.
Eastbound traffic headed from West Ashley will be reduced to a single lane ahead of the Wando Bridge to accommodate westbound traffic.
Once traffic is rerouted back to its usual side of I-526, lanes will expand back to two lanes.
Perry also said electronic signs will display travel times to help drivers decide if the new two-way option is best for their commute.
The agency made the announcement at a news conference at their district headquarters in North Charleston.
On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Henry McMaster sent a letter to Transportation Sec. Christy Hall requesting her agency develop and execute a plan for reversing an eastbound lane of the James B. Edwards Bridge, commonly known as the Wando Bridge.
Workers began making preparations for a possible crossover lane on I-526. On Friday afternoon, the SCDOT tweeted photos of paving underway.
South Carolina Transportation Sec. Christy Hall responded to news reports and controversies she says she has been hearing.
"First and foremost, I just want to assure everybody that the bridges in the area are safe," she said. "If there's an unsafe bridge, we will close that bridge. What I'm reading and hearing and experiencing some of the controversy that's swirling around in the area about the safety of the bridges, I just want to assure the motoring public and the citizens of our state that those bridges that remain open are safe bridges. So don't panic, don't worry, the bridges aren't going to collapse. You're in good shape."
She said the SCDOT fully understands its role in making sure that the motoring public is safe and urged people not to speculate and create "a sense of panic."
Hall said the agency will release all information in its files about the repairs of the Wando Bridge as well as other structures once it is all compiled.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.