The repairs being made to the J.E. McTeer Bridge on U.S. 21 in Beaufort, S.C., were substantially completed approximately five weeks ahead of the projected date of July 31 by United Contractors Inc. of Great Falls.
The bridge was made available for traffic well before the Fourth of July holiday and the opening of the Beaufort Water Festival.
SCDOT Executive Director Buck Limehouse Jr. cited the quick response to this emergency by the SCDOT staff, and the hurricane season as two factors that led to the accelerated repairs.
“Our staff both at headquarters in Columbia, and our field offices in the Lowcountry reacted immediately to assess this situation, and to move on an emergency contract to get the work started,” Limehouse said. “SCDOT’s staff recognized that the McTeer Bridge is an important transportation link between Beaufort and the Sea Islands on a day-to-day basis, but it also serves as a vital connection in hurricane evacuation, and we were on the brink of the hurricane season.”
The McTeer Bridge was struck by a barge carrying a crane on April 26. The damage required replacement of all five beams in the bridge deck. However, SCDOT bridge inspectors determined that one lane of the structure could be safely used during peak traffic periods.
SCDOT worked with officials from Beaufort County, the city of Beaufort and the town of Port Royal to reduce congestion as much as possible. Those efforts included the installation of traffic cameras at key points to allow the public to view the traffic situation in real time on the Internet. In addition, SCDOT made provisions for EMS units to use the bridge at any time to respond to emergencies.
Limehouse said this repair project also was motivated by SCDOT’s commitment to the public.
“It’s our job to provide a safe highway system for the people of South Carolina, and it’s doubly important for us to respond as quickly as possible when bridges or highways are damaged, and traffic is disrupted,” he said.
United has successfully handled a number of emergency repair contracts for SCDOT in recent years.