McMaster Delivers Update on Wando Bridge, Says It May Take Longer to Complete Repairs
MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (TIM RENAUD, WTAT-TV) — South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster was joined by several members of local and state government Wednesday afternoon to address the on-going issues surrounding the closure and repairs of the I-526 bridge over the Wando River.
It was Monday afternoon that we learned a cable on the westbound side of the bridge had come apart. Leaders said it could possibly take up to 48 hours to repair. We learned today it would, in fact, take a much longer time for those repairs to be completed.
“Every state agency, every asset, every local agency that is here are all working together as a team,” said Gov. McMaster during the press conference. “We’ve spared nothing.”
Traffic has been one of the main issues. Gov. McMaster said the port has cooperated with officials and is staggering incoming traffic. Something he says has made a difference with the heavy traffic flow.
“I’ve asked the state agencies in Charleston County to stagger their operational hours, maybe to come in early or come in late in order to relieve some of the traffic flow,” he added.
Gov. McMaster said the state guard has approximately 150 engineers available for repairs of the bridge. “These are registered, civil engineers who are available as needed to the Department of Transportation engineers who are on the scene.”
“We have moved with great speed to inform the people what is going on … and we are in constant communication to see that we discover and understand what caused the damage, the break of the cable, and to discover what danger or damage may be existing elsewhere, to get it fixed as quickly as possible,” he said.
In the meantime, McMaster says the Department of Public Safety has sent extra highway patrol to the area. He says they are marking the routes and have set up extra signals and signs to help monitor traffic, including a county helicopter that will monitor traffic from the air.
“This is not going to be fixed in a day or two. It’s going to take longer than that but we’ll keep you informed as we find out from the inspectors. This is a full team effort across the state. Every asset we have has been brought in including the Department of Natural Resources to help with the traffic flow.”
Christy Hall, director of the S.C. Dept. of Transportation says they are working in three major areas. The first by doing a forensic analysis of exactly what happened, the next is clearly developing and implementing the repair plan to get the bridge reopened and the third being the movement of traffic in and out of the area.
“We flew in last night an international expert that deals with these types of structures, we borrowed that individual from the Florida DOT who has a lot of structures like this,” she explained. “Our expert from the USDOT arrived this morning. All of those experts, plus our team and consultant experts all entered the bridge structure at 10:30 a.m. to do the assessment.”
Hall said they have since completed that initial review and expect to be briefed on the results later Wednesday afternoon.
McMaster said a weakness in one of the cables was discovered back in 2016. “From that point on, once that repair was done, instead of inspecting these bridges every two years they were being inspected by DOT every week.”
He said this particular break was not more than one-week old.
In addition to the weekly inspections, Hall said they are also doing daily walkthroughs of both eastbound and westbound structures.
Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie said this is a state-wide and regional effort to deal with what is an immense inconvenience for everyone. “I am so proud of the citizens of Mount Pleasant, and all of our region for that matter, because we didn’t have any incidents of road rage yesterday.”
He went on to ask that motorists please heed the re-route information and instructions that are published on SCDOT’s website (see here) “Those are there for a reason. Please do not trust Siri or your phone app to tell you the best way to go because that is not necessarily the most current nor is it the re-route directions that were given.”
Mayor Haynie says the town has deployed extra people and are manning almost every traffic light in the town, especially those known to be choke points.
FOX 24 News will have an update on the evening news at 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Be sure to join us again on the FOX 24 Morning News from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. for live traffic updates before you head out the door.