Section of I-77 closed again Wednesday for hole on bridge
A busy part of a South Carolina interstate is shut down for the second time in a month.
Inspectors found another hole on the bridge over the Catawba River in York County. They said the hole, less than a foot in diameter, was the result of aging infrastructure, not the recent rains.
Two lanes of I-77 southbound, between exits 83 and 82, are closed.
Nearly 100,000 cars and trucks use this interstate bridge in rock hill each week.
Todd McNanch does all bridge inspections in York County. He said they've patched the hole over the Catawba River bridge and are waiting for concrete to cure so they can reopen the lanes.
He said the hole was almost 8 inches across and in direct path of motorists.
"If it was left unattended it would have grew bigger over time because of the beating it takes because of traffic," McNanch said.
The hole was discovered by inspectors on Wednesday, closing down lanes. The South Carolina Department of Transportation's district engineer said they have a formula which tells them which interstate repairs take priority.
"Evaluate the roads. Determine the condition. The traffic and everything. Plug it into a formula. Rank them to determine exactly which roads to do first," said John McCarter, SCDOT district engineer administrator.
York County Rep. Gary Simrill calls interstate repair in SC a $29 billion problem. Simrill said as cars become more fuel efficient for every mile driven on the road, SC is not collecting as much revenue from the gas tax as they once did.
"The difficulty for us is -- you look at the gasoline tax -- it hasn't changed since the mid-'80s in South Carolina. So now that's almost a 30-year window of the same gasoline tax, but you're now looking at diminishing return with the gasoline tax, so we have to look elsewhere," Simrill said.
This week, the SC lawmakers approved $500 million in state and federal bonds to be applied to interstate improvement projects.
Currently $1.1 billion is collected through fuel tax and applied to roads like the Catawba River bridge on I-77.
SCDOT crews said they will be inspecting bridge decks across the state over the next several months.
The big question for motorists is when are these lanes going to be opened back up. Crews said they can't say for certain but hope to have them open later Thursday evening.