McMaster requesting SCDOT audit following Wando River Bridge closure

SCDOT crews inspect the snapped cable (Source: SCDOT)
SCDOT crews inspect the snapped cable (Source: SCDOT)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster is requesting an audit of SCDOT following the westbound lane closures on the Wando River Bridge.

McMaster called for the audit in a Tuesday letter to Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall.

The governor asked that the DOT retain an independent expert to review existing records on all South Carolina bridges and audit the department's protocol and procedures for inspecting and maintaining the more than 8,000 bridges across the state.

Motorists have had to slowly navigate in and out of Mount Pleasant with the closures of the westbound lanes of the Wando River Bridge, more commonly known as the James B. Edwards Wando River Bridge,

The closures were made last Monday after crews found a 1,000-foot cable which had snapped.

Crews are now in the process of making repairs to have the westbound lanes re-opened by June 11, according to SCDOT officials.

"Given the unexpected nature of the Bridge closure, it is imperative that SCDOT take additional steps to reassure public officials and the public at large that all South Carolina bridges are safe and properly maintained," McMaster said in the letter. "To this end, so as not to distract SCDOT personnel and resources from the critical task at hand of repairing and reopening the Bridge, I request that SCDOT retain an independent expert to review existing records and audit SCDOT's protocol and procedures for inspecting and maintaining the 8,428 bridges throughout South Carolina."

McMaster said the resulting audit should be provided to the General Assembly as well as the public.

He also asked that the SCDOT provide a written response to the following questions:

  • Have there been any ruptured or broken cables in the past, and if so, what has SCDOT done to address the same?
  • What are SCDOT’s national experts advising about the Bridge’s previous inspections and repairs? What additional steps are SCDOT’s experts recommending at this time?
  • As we await the results of the forensic testing, does the latest structural analysis indicate or identify any risk that the Bridge will fail?
  • What is the SCDOT’s plan to get the full service life out of the Bridge? To the extent practicable, what can be done to ensure that the public receives the maximum utility out of the current Bridge, whether that be the remainder of the originally anticipated years of service or otherwise? Alternatively, if long-term use of the Bridge is not advisable, what action is SCDOT taking to plan for replacement-related contingencies?

SCDOT officials have said after temporary repairs are done on the Wando River Bridge, permanent repairs can be made with the bridge fully open.

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