After a wildly successful experiment to show everyone just how much we all depend on engineered concrete to move Charlestonians from one suburb to another, the I-526 West bridge over the Wando River reopened this morning.
A ceremonial ‘No, you first’ procession of local leaders reportedly made the maiden trip over the bridge. State Transportation Secretary Christy Hall reassured everyone that the bridge that normally carries some 30,000 drivers daily is now safe.
“The bridge is absolutely safe,” Hall said, according to the Post and Courier. “Just to reassure everybody, I have no concerns whatsoever about this bridge and we will do the maintenance necessary to make sure we get years of life to come out of this structure.”
Hall notes she has “no concerns whatsoever” now, but as the P&C has reported since the bridge closed on May 14, SCDOT crews have been paying special attention to the westbound stretch of the beltway bridge leading from Mt. Pleasant to Daniel Island since it opened in 1991. Documents examined this week showed that engineers “raised alarms” over rust and water leakage in 2010, according to the paper.
When the bridge was deemed unsafe in mid-May and closed for repairs, S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms said at the time that the state may need to explore replacing the bridge sooner rather than later.
Don’t move your traffic app of choice off your home screen yet though, Hall says ongoing maintenance on some parts the bridge will close some lanes as needed.