AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — Fifty of the 8,400 bridges owned by the South Carolina Department of Transportation are closed, including the Union Street bridge in Aiken. It’s closed due to weight restrictions.
“I was like, oh no, here we go again. It’s gonna be Fairfield Street all over again with another bridge closure,” Brittany Jones told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.
The DOT inspects bridges in good or fair condition every two years. “To make sure that there’s no damage from any scour coming downstream. And of course, the bridge deck, it’s just like inspecting a road,” SC DOT’s Pete Poore added.
The Union Street bridge problems weren’t enough to close the bridge first. Following another inspection, leaders determined the bridge needed to be closed. “Once that inspection revealed that the Union Street Bridge had to be weight restricted. It’s closed for safety reasons,” Poore added.
The closure is causing detours.”Taking my children to and back and forth to preschool every day. Now I have to go down further and either utilize York Street or Chesterfield, which are a bit busier, especially in the morning times,” Brittany Jones said.
It’s the second wooden bridge in the area to be closed. “I’ve made a garden out there and I can’t get there to tend to my garden,” Tom Walton added.
Some say pedestrians should still use be able to use the bridges until traffic problems are resolved. “Both bridges being closed in these cyclone fences for no seemingly no reason. Cause you already have these blockades here,” Walton added.
The York Street bridge was successfully replaced a few years ago. “All the aesthetics were taken into consideration and were used in the replacement of the York Street bridges. That certainly could be a possibility.”
Money from the government can help. “A negotiation between the railroads and D O T resulted in DOT would take possession of those bridges, and the railroads would provide $2 million for maintenance. Now, over the years, that $2 million has evaporated. “If we could get the state to fix the bridge and the city was to pay the difference to cover it, we would bring tourism,” Todd Lista added.
“We have our 10 year plan. One of the four major points is the bridge program. And it is designed to repair or replace, typically more so replace bridges that are deficient,” Poore added.
Engineers will survey the bridge at Union Street before it reopens. It’s unclear when that will happen.