Timetable for reopening I-95 in South Carolina still unknown

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 10/9/2015

Authorities in South Carolina say a 13-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in Clarendon County cannot be reopened at this time due to issues with the bridges over the Black and Pocotaglio rivers.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation says it will continue to conduct daily evaluations to reopen additional portions of I-95 when possible.

The 13-mile segment of I-95 from mile marker 119 to mile marker 132 has been closed for days following what has been described as a “1,000-year flood event” that saw in excess of two feet of rain dumped on parts of the state. At least 17 people have died as a result the storms and flooding, including one SCDOT employee whose pickup truck was swept away by surging floodwaters. 

ABC News reports the foundations under some bridges on Interstate 95 have washed out. The state’s Transportation Secretary Christy Hall told the news agency on Friday that the problems are on 18 separate small bridges that go over the Black and Pocotaligo rivers and surrounding swampland. Hall said a contractor will begin to fix the foundations Saturday and work night and day. But she says she can't say how long that will take.

As of Friday afternoon, 252 state-maintained roads and 118 state-maintained bridges remained closed, according to SCDOT’s website.

On Wednesday, SCDOT reopened portions of I-95 to local and emergency vehicle traffic, from I-26 in Orangeburg up to Exit 119, and from Exit 132 to I-20 in Florence. All southbound ramps at Exit 119 have been reopened all the way to I-26, and all northbound ramps from Exit 132 have been opened all the way to I-20.

The impact of the shutdown is being felt hundreds of miles away, where Ernie Brame, the general manager of a Petro truck stop at Exit 106 on I-95 in Kenly, N.C., says that since the interstate closed, business from truckers is down by 25 to 30 percent compared to the same time frame last year. Brame said he’s been checking SCDOT’s website “three times per day” to see if and when the road will be reopened.

“It’s having a definite impact on our business,” he said in a phone interview with Land Line on Friday. “A lot of guys are taking I-75 up to Atlanta and Charlotte to get to Richmond.”

Brame said he anticipates business will be down until the road reopens.

“It’s frustrating, but they have to take their time and make sure the public’s safety is accounted for,” he said.

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