SCDOT expects to reopen Wando Bridge Saturday

SCDOT crews inspect the snapped cable (Source: SCDOT)
SCDOT crews inspect the snapped cable (Source: SCDOT)
Inspectors look inside the Wando Bridge (Source: SCDOT)
Inspectors look inside the Wando Bridge (Source: SCDOT)

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina Department of Transportation officials say they expect to reopen the westbound Wando Bridge this Saturday, weather permitting.

"The repairs have progressed very well and we are ahead of schedule with the repairs," Hall said. "As a matter of fact, weather dependent, we expect to be able to reopen the bridge this Saturday, which is about a week-and-a-half ahead of schedule."

Hall said the work was made possible by a team of structural engineers, forensic laboratories, specialists in constructing and maintaining structures, SCDOT staff and federal transportation officials. SCDOT crews have also worked with their counterparts in Florida, a state officials said has more than 100 similar bridges in its inventory.

Hall said the Saturday estimate includes "rain time" factored in based on a wet forecast.

Engineering Deputy Sec. Leland Colvin denied that a design flaw caused the corrosion that led to the snapped cable.

"It's something that Florida DOT's expert said that's one of the things with these bridges that you have," Colvin said. Florida DOT officials are also dealing with similar issues of corrosion and tendon ruptures, he said.

"When you look at Lowcountry bridges and the saltwater environment, corrosion is just something you deal with in the design and construction and maintenance of bridges," Colvin said. "It's not unique just to this bridge type, it's bridges that we look at. That's why you do biannual inspections."

During repair work that replaced one of eight cables that snapped, a ninth cable was added as a redundancy for additional safety.

"Corrosion is something we deal with on all coastal bridges," Colvin said. "With that redundancy that we're adding, not only to the westbound but the eastbound bridge, we certainly have no reason to believe that we cannot extend the life of this bridge for many, many years and decades to come."

Hall displayed stacks of historical records compiled on the bridges, saying the work to compile those records and cataloging them was still underway.

The westbound lanes have been closed for just over two weeks because of a snapped cable inside the bridge.

Inspectors discovered the cable on May 14, then ordered an emergency 48-hour closure of the bridge to allow inspectors time to examine the rest of the bridge and devise repair plans.

Those plans, revealed on May 16, included replacing the cable and adding an additional one, and were expected to be completed on June 11.

While detours and an I-526 crossover lane are in place, many drivers have still complained about traffic headaches around the Lowcountry. SCDOT says traffic is improving daily because of the crossover lane, Engineering Deputy Sec. Leland Colvin told reporters an additional cable is being added during repairs.

As of the last SCDOT update eight days ago, 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.

In the meantime, Gov. Henry McMaster has asked for the State Infrastructure Bank to approve completion of I-526 over James and Johns Island. He also wants a full audit of SCDOT.

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.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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