Failing bridge frustrates commuters

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. —

Late Wednesday, South Carolina Department of Transportation issued an emergency closure of a two-lane bridge on Harrisburg Road over McAlpine Creek. The stretch of road is in Indian Land, less than half a mile from the state line.

A construction crew on the new bridge only a few feet away, noticed a wooden support beam had split beneath the span.

More than 4,000 cars were crossing the bridge daily until the sudden shutdown.  

Earl Jordan's wife is one of the commuters, who drove that way to Charlotte every day to avoid the traffic on the main highways.

"Johnston Road is just so bad. This way it's a straight shot for her," Jordan said.

On Thursday, he stood out at the road block helping people who were forced to turn around, and had no idea how to go any other way.

"I’m glad it's closed. It's dangerous," he said.

Kimberly Jackson drives the road as a cut through to Charlotte every day.  She didn't see the signs telling her the bridge was out, and had to turn around.

"I’m glad my child's not in the car.  I'm glad they closed it," she said.

She wasn't alone. Channel 9 watched dozens of people passing posted DOT signs, and driving all the way to the road block, before making the turn.

DOT officials said the bridge has long needed a replacement, but large trucks and 18-wheelers could be partly to blame for its failure.  Officials said the bridge has been posted for years as a weight-restricted bridge, but some truckers ignore the signs and cross it anyway.
 
"I’m sure that's a problem because there's an 18-wheeler down there now trying to turn around and get out," said John McKay with DOT. "They shouldn't even be on that road at all."

Jordan said with an old bridge, you just have to be thankful that you're not driving across it at the wrong time.

"They go when they go. If you're not on it, you're lucky.  If you're on it, it's an unlucky day for you," he said.

Oddly, the new bridge over McAlpine Creek was originally supposed to open Wednesday, the day of the emergency shutdown.  However, weather has delayed the work. 

That new bridge is now expected to open June 12. Total cost figures for the project were not immediately available.

Until then, detours direct drivers from Barberville Road to Lancaster Highway from the south, and from Dorman Road to Lancaster Highway in North Carolina.