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Nancy Mace Presses SCDOT For Answers

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South Carolina state representative Nancy Mace is demanding answers from the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) related to the closure of the James B. Edwards bridge (a.k.a. #TrafficMaggedon).

In a letter to SCDOT secretary Christy Hall on Wednesday, Mace thanked the agency for “acting in the interest of public safety and closing the west-bound side” of the bridge after one of its cables snapped earlier this week.

But those are pretty much the only kind words she has for the agency – which is dealing with a full-blown infrastructure nightmare.

“There are questions that need to be answered,” Mace wrote. “The situation our area is facing is unacceptable. Now we need to find out if this situation was also avoidable.”

(Spoiler alert … it was).

Mace was elected back in January to represent S.C. House District 99 (map) – which includes the Edwards bridge and most of its surrounding areas.  Needless to say, she has a keen interest in the resolution of this issue.

“As you stated previously, there were a number of cables being monitored by SCDOT,” Mace wrote.  “However, the cable that broke Monday, May 14th, was not one of those being monitored, and it was one of eight (8) main cables in the structure.  In photos of the broken cable, to the blind eye, it appears that corrosion was the root cause.  If this is the case, it gives me significant pause regarding the long term health of the bridge.”

Mace isn’t alone in her concern …

As we noted in our prior coverage, the snapped cable – or “tendon” – has raised serious concerns regarding the structural integrity of both bridges.

Mace provided Hall with a list of questions she wants answered from the agency.

Here they are …

1. When was SCDOT first made aware of any cable or tendon problems or concerns on this bridge? 

2. Of the 92 cables supporting the Wando bridge today, how many are being monitored?

3. Of the 92 cables, how many cables or sleeves show signs of corrosion?

4. Why wasn’t this specific cable being monitored if it showed signs of corrosion?

5. How many, if any, cables or sleeves have been replaced since the bridge was built?

6. Is 2016 the last time a cable or sleeve was replaced?

7. How much money has been spent replacing cables or sleeves and/or making repairs to this bridge over  the last decade? 

8. Is the bridge being inspected by SCDOT personnel or third-party engineering consulting firms?

9. Is the federal government involved in any inspections?

10. How do environmental factors play a role in the cost of building infrastructure and its  maintenance  along the coast as compared to projects inland without the same coastal conditions? 

11. Are there any other bridges along the coast being monitored due to structural integrity or corrosion  concerns? 

12. How much money has been spent by DOT on infrastructure, segmented by region  (Lowcountry, Midlands, Pee Dee and Upstate) over the course of the last ten years?

13. Of the money spent by region, what is the population by region?

14. Of the money spent by region, how many tourists visit each region annually?

“I-526 may be one of the most important roads in the entire state with regards to traffic, vehicles per day and economic development,” she wrote.  “Per SCDOT traffic counts, I-526 is visited by 70,000 to 92,000 commuters, and trucks, every single day.”

Mace also described the road as being “the femoral artery to one of the greatest economic generators in the state,” a reference to the S.C. Ports Authority (SCPA)’s Wando Welch Terminal.

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Banner: Sam Holland via S.C. House of Representatives


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