COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A bridge in Fairfield County has been closed for nearly four years and it’s a big headache according to some residents there.
SCDOT officials are confirming that the bridge near Bellfield and Blink Bonnie Roads in Ridgeway has been shut down since 2015, and say it could be another several years before the bridge is repaired. Crews are scheduled to begin work in 2023, at the earliest.
Some residents complained that the closure has been in place since the 2015 floods. SCDOT officials say that the bridge was closed in 2015, but would not confirm that this was due to flooding. There was an inspection done sometime after the floods, in which the bridge was deemed unsafe to remain open.
Money now coming in from the Gas Tax is providing the necessary funding to make the repairs according to SCDOT, but those repairs are not scheduled to start for another four years. Some residents say the detour to get around the bridge is about 15 miles long, and that they’re losing their patience.
Brent Addison is a Ridgeway resident who has to take the detour around the bridge to get to work every day.
“We’ve been calling and calling and asking about fixing this bridge. They keep saying, ‘we’re working on it.’ That’s all they say to us," Addison said. "I have to go all the way around, at least 15 miles out of the way, to get to work.”
Bruce Elrod of Ridgeway first reported this issue to WIS-TV. He says the closure may not affect a lot of people, but it’s a huge inconvenience to those who are affected.
“Over a period of five years, it’s probably been millions of dollars in gas wasted just taking the detours and no one seems to care,”Elrod said.
As of Tuesday morning, AAA is reporting that the average price for a gallon of gas here in the Palmetto State is about $2.35. For a 30-mile detour – roundtrip – you’re looking at about $5 extra for the day. While that may not seem like much, after one year, that detour could cost about $1,300.
If the bridge is closed through 2023, which is what SCDOT expects, drivers could be paying as much as $10,000 extra in gas by then -- starting from the time the bridge was closed in 2015.
“I actually set the odometer and it is 15.6 miles to get to [US] 34 and I mean there’s a lot of work going on, but we can’t get a bridge fixed,” Elrod said.
He’s also concerned about what the timeline to get the bridge fixed will mean for him. Elrod, who is 70 years old, says he may very well be 80 before the bridge is completed and by then he may not be able to drive anymore.
“We pay taxes just like everybody else pay taxes. We want the bridge fixed. That’s all we want,”Addison said.
WIS-TV is still hoping to get more answers from SCDOT officials to see if there’s anything residents can do to get the project finished sooner.
We’re also still waiting on SCDOT’s response to complaints from the community that this bridge closure is costing them extra money they say they can’t afford to pay.