Live 5 Investigates: 2010 Wando Bridge inspection showed duct tape usage, water intrusion

The page of the 2010 report which shows duct tape was found to be used in certain locations (Source: SCDOT)
The page of the 2010 report which shows duct tape was found to be used in certain locations (Source: SCDOT)

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The SCDOT said major problems with the James D. Edwards Bridge were first noted during a 2010 biennial inspection.

That inspection report and following final report were released Thursday following the press conference to announce the bridge would open on Saturday.

The findings included signs of water intrusion, corrosion and even pictures of duct tape being used for connections in the bridge.

The Wando River Bridge was open to traffic in 1991 and almost immediately had some cracking issues the state had to repair.

Fast forward to 2010 to the first reports that water was getting into places it shouldn't be and causing potential corrosion.

One report even detailed inspectors found duct tape being used in numerous locations to hold connections.

Who originally did that and why is unclear.

We now know corrosion is what caused a cable to snap two years ago and again this month.

"It's clear to me from looking at the documents you see before you that these bridges have been problematic almost from the beginning, especially with regards to water intrusion," said Christy Hall with SCDOT.

Inspectors notice deposits, report durability issues 

In 2010, inspectors noticed strange white deposits under the bridge and said there were serious durability issues.

Water from the deck was getting inside, penetrating the tendons and cables and causing potential corrosion.

A year later engineers gave the state five priority one recommendations for the bridge.

On Thursday, the SCDOT said of those, four items have all been completed.

But the fifth recommendation, "Perform load rating analysis for EB and WB bridges," has still not been completed.

That is a formal test of the weight the bridge can safely handle.

"Structural engineering analysis and modeling has been completed and occurred, but a specific load rating analysis has not been completed at this time but is currently included in the current scope of work for the asset management contract."

Basically, they are working on it.

The bridge originally cost tax payers more than $32 million dollars, and we've spent at least $8 million more on repairs and inspections.

That doesn't include this month's work which the state is still calculating.

May 28, 2010: Inspection Report
  • Delaminated patches where cracks and stalactites were present
  • Minor exposed rebar at finger joint locations
  • Grout beginning to fail, resulting in some cracks on bearing seals
  • Signs of water intrusion
  • Problems with post-tensioning tendons include: unprotected grout port holes, signs of grout leakage, inadequate corrosion protection, use of duct tape for connections, incorrect drain locations, leaks and corrosion.
  • Previously patches areas have spalls and leaks.
October 2011: Final Report from May 2010 Inspection

An October 2011 report stated the "unusual" finding of white deposit material on several locations of external tendons during the regular biennial inspection which prompted further investigation.

Unprotected holes were also located in the tendons along with grout leakage and "inadequate corrosion protection" of the tendons.

SCDOT officials said during their press conference on Thursday that these holes were later filled.

"It is suspected that there may be many more locations where grout vent tubes are not completely filled with grout (or perhaps, are filled with a degraded grout)," the report stated. "Such situations provide a direct path for air and water…to reach tendons."

Recommendations made then included the repair of all tendons mentioned in the report, to seal the grout tubes, and to document the water intrusion.

A third priority recommendation included an inspection of vertical tendons in the pier columns.

We'll continue to look through all of these documents and bring anything notable to light.

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