MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation says traffic conditions are improving daily since two-way traffic began Sunday afternoon on the eastbound Wando Bridge.
Officials provided an update Wednesday afternoon on the westbound Wando Bridge, which was closed on May 14 when inspectors discovered a snapped cable inside the bridge's infrastructure.
"We are doing everything possible to get it open as fast as possible," Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said. "We recognize the impact it's having on the surrounding community."
But SCDOT officials say while they were aware of a request from the city of North Charleston to return the eastbound lanes of Wando traffic to a single direction for at least a few hours a day, they have no plans to do so.
North Charleston spokesman Tony Tassarotti said the request from North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey came after people living in the city complained about massive delays getting east of the Cooper.
"We don't intend to make any changes at this time especially with the two-way traffic," SCDOT Director of Traffic Engineering Rob Perry said.
Engineering Deputy Sec. Leland Colvin told reporters an additional cable is being added during repairs.
"When this bridge opened up we had eight main cables running through the main span," he said. "When we're done by June 11, we'll have nine. So we'll have an additional cable – it's called redundancy in the bridge world."
He said that redundancy will make the bridge safer, with 20 percent more cable in the bridge once the permanent repair is complete.
Hall said she is confident in the safety of the bridge.
"I have no concerns that this bridge is going fail," she said. "Hence the reason we're standing here today."
Colvin said forensic testing is still underway on the cable, the sheath, steel strands and even the grout at the failed location inside the bridge. A PhD specialist will fly in Wednesday night to assist with the testing.
They expect results of the test early next week, he said.
Five of the 51 construction pours over the top of each column, or pier, of the bridge, are being replaced as part of the repair efforts, he said. All 51 will then be resealed.
Wednesday marks nine days since officials announced they had found a snapped cable inside the bridge. A week ago, SCDOT announced the bridge would be closed for four weeks with an anticipated reopening date of June 11.
"We are still on schedule for the June 11 reopening," SCDOT Commissioner Robby Robbins said. "They are working as hard as they can every day for you to get this bridge reopened."
Last Sunday, SCDOT opened the I-526 crossover lane to put one lane going in each direction in the eastbound lanes of the bridge.
Two other detours are also available. 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. Officials decided to split the I-26 on-ramp into two lanes during rush hour in order to try and alleviate traffic.
SCDOT says the cable material needed to repair the bridge is already on-site.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.