SC Hosts Ceremony for Harbor Bridge Opening
At the beginning of the week, the South Carolina Department of Transportation hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, celebrating the official opening of a new bridge in Beaufort County.
Construction of the new structure cost $77 million.
About the Project
To replace an 82-year-old riveted through truss swing bridge, SCDOT officials announced construction efforts for a new high-level fixed-span bridge along US 21 (Sea Island Parkway) over the Harbor River in Beaufort County back in 2018.
The retiring structure was built in 1939 by Virginia Bridge Company of Roanoke, Virginia, with its main span measuring 172 feet, while the full length of the structure is 2,851 feet. The bridge is also comprised of two, 11-foot-wide lanes with no shoulders, and due to its deteriorating condition, provided only a means for vehicular transportation from the mainland to Harbor Island, Hunting Island, and Fripp Island.
Average daily traffic over the river is about 6,200 vehicles, according to SCDOT. However, the structure is also served as a critical hurricane evacuation route for Beaufort County, and over the years, has underwent washouts and other storm-related damage.
Ribbon cutting ceremony for new US 21 bridge over Harbor River https://t.co/PomurwzBrL— Shawn Cabbagestalk (@CabbageTV) April 26, 2021
While the project would announce its kickoff in spring of 2018, it was in 2017 that the project was awarded to United Infrastructure Group for $54.7 million and was slated to be paid for with state and federal funding. It is touted as the largest project to be completed in the state’s 10-year project plan.
Although a series of project updates were released throughout 2018 and 2019 regarding the project’s plans and permits—including the burial of a water line under the old bridge—bridge and roadway construction for the new structure was not reported to have begun until spring 2019.
Throughout its development, Jim Triplett, CEO of United Infrastructure Group, noted that the project faced permitting, design and construction challenges, in addition to the pandemic and a hurricane, but was still able to reach completion 60 days ahead of schedule.
The new, high-level 3,353-foot-long fixed-span bridge measures 65 feet high, creating an uninterrupted clearing for shrimp boats to pass underneath. The structure also boasts two, 12-foot-wide lanes, with 10 feet of shoulder on each side, offering a safer alternative compared to the old structure.
“The panoramic view is just astounding,” state Sen. George E. “Chip” Campsen III, R-Charleston, said from the middle of the bridge overlooking St. Helena Sound and the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin.
Campsen added that the old swing structure would be removed and utilized as an artificial reef 55 miles offshore in an effort to improve the fisheries habitat. Discussions are also underway to repurpose the decks of the bridge in near-shore reefs as well.
Traffic opened on the new bridge on Monday afternoon, April 26. Demolition of the old structure is slated to begin this week.