Aiken County, SC – I’ve seen three bridges impacted by weather in the last 24 hours. All are closed after nearby waters and heavy rain created fallen trees. I spoke with a maintenance engineer from South Carolina Department of Transportation about a timeline and budget for the state bridges that are now impassable. Jeffrey Ellison said it could be days or months before some of these bridges get repaired and reopened in Aiken County and from what he tells me it could be more like months.
In the 30 plus years Judy Ward has lived on Old Shoals Road, near U.S. 1 (Columbia Highway), she tells me this isn’t the first time her front yard view includes a bridge to nowhere.
“I’ve seen the bridge washout and they’ve had to stop traffic, but it’s been years ago. I think when Hugo came through it got pretty rough at that time,” Ward told us as we stood in the middle of the closed road Tuesday afternoon.
Ellison has a list of roads and bridges closed and needing work, which includes the one where Ward lives. He said SCDOT engineers are going around the state looking at damage now.
“They are assessing that and putting value for what we are going to do through contracts, possibly with FEMA and other entities to pay for that,” he said.
Secondary roads closed are:
Hollow Creek Road
Huckleberry Finn Road
Mount Eval Road
Old Shoals Road
Corinth Church Road
Secondary bridges that are closed are:
Hollow Creek Road (near Orangeburge County line)
Old Shoals Road (near U.S. 1 – Columbia Highway)
Wagontong Road & New Holland Road
Ellison said SCDOT’s first priority is checking on the heavily traveled I-95, which is closed. Primary roads are next. Then the secondary roads and bridges that have Aiken County drivers taking detours will be assessed.
“Our people are out assessing the damage and we are trying to reopen roads while we are doing this and we’re trying to do it safely,” he explained.
As long as there are barriers, drivers need to look for a different route.
“When I first moved here you might see four cars a day go up and down this road plus a school bus. Now, it’s constant because a lot of people moved in down through the area. I would imagine at least 200 people or more down this way,” Ward said.
In short, this could be long term. No hard numbers were given as to how much all of this will cost. The one thing that is being stressed: Do NOT drive around road closed barriers.