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Tarp Mishap Shuts Down SC Interstate Bridge

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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The collapse of jobsite tarps and netting onto a Charleston, South Carolina, bridge last week snarled traffic and sent one person to the hospital—and new reports indicate that multiple drivers reported to authorities that the containment rigging appeared to be unsafe in the days leading up to the incident.

The Don N. Holt Bridge, which spans the Cooper River between Charleston and North Charleston, was the site of the mishap Wednesday (July 19), which resulted in about a dozen vehicles being trapped on the bridge. According to local reports, one person on the bridge was taken to the hospital after having a panic attack.

The bridge is undergoing a $9.5 million repainting job, according to reports; Eagle Industrial Painting, of Magnolia, Ohio, is the contractor on the project. Eagle, according to its website, is an SSPC-QP 1 and QP 2 certified contractor; the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday (July 24).

Earlier Complaints

According to reports that have surfaced in the days since, multiple drivers called in their concerns about the state of the tarps on the bridge in the days prior. According to The Post and Courier, a driver called 911 on Sunday, July 16, and told an operator, “That thing could come completely loose and hit cars and cause havoc and lives lost. … It could cover several cars in both directions.”

Local authorities reportedly relayed the concerns to the South Carolina Department of Transportation. So far, there is no confirmation that anyone checked on the rigging after the complaints came in.

Thunderstorm Winds

Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, the tarps came loose during a thunderstorm. Drivers who were trapped under the netting were rescued, reportedly with no physical injuries sustained. Traffic became so tied up, social media users and local reporters began using the term "tarpageddon" to describe the situation.

SCDOT spokesperson James Law told PaintSquare Daily News that the project is a night job, and that the worksite was not yet fully operational when the incident occurred.

Crews worked overnight to remove the tarps after utilities to the bridge were shut off. All lanes were reopened by midmorning Thursday (July 20). According to Law, the contractor was still working on cleanup as of Monday.

About the Bridge

The Don N. Holt Bridge, which carries I-536 across the Cooper River, is a continuous truss bridge that was built in 1992. Its longest span is 800 feet long, and it provides 155 feet of clearance.

SCDOT's Law told PSDN that the investigation that is underway will address whether or not lead paint could have been a concern on the site.

Law declined to comment as to whether OSHA is part of the investigation at this time. South Carolina OSHA's Lesia Kudelka said that the agency is not investigating, pointing out that "OSHA investigates worker safety issues." No workers were reported injured in the incident.

Eagle Industrial Painting has no history of violations with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

SCDOT has directed those whose cars were damaged in the incident to contact an insurance service to file a claim.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Containment; Health & Safety; NA; North America; Safety

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