SCDOT: Contractor Must Pay $10 Million to Seal Bridge Cracks

Tue January 04, 2005 - Southeast Edition

BEAUFORT, SC (AP) State transportation officials want the contractor that built two Lowcountry bridges to pay up to $10 million to seal thousands of tiny cracks in the structure.

The cracks don’t pose any immediate danger to the state Highway 170 bridges over the Chechessee and Broad rivers. But unless an overlay is poured over the cracks, moisture could seep in and erode the support beams over time, said Rocque Kneece, program development engineer of the Transportation Department.

The cracks, most of them measuring hundredths of an inch in width, starting showing up shortly after the concrete for the bridges was poured in the fall of 2003.

The contractor, Balfour Beatty, wants to make sure the state is satisfied with its work, Spokesman Bill Hightower said.

The English firm was picked to build the bridges because its bid was $23 million lower than the nearest competitor.

Balfour Beatty is still finishing the project, which had an original completion date of October 2003. The company paid $3 million in late fees last year.

The bridges are part of the $105 million widening of 12 mi. of state Highway 170, which links northern and southern Beaufort County.