The SCDOT Commission held their final meeting of 2021 on Thursday, December 9, approving significant changes to improve the state’s bridge program.
Deputy Secretary for Engineering, Leland Colvin, provided an update on the results of the load rating program which assessed the condition and capacity of the state’s bridges.
He noted that the program validated SCDOT’s inspection processes. More importantly, it highlighted additional bridge replacement and rehabilitation needs across the state due to aging structures that were not designed to handle today’s loads.
As a result of the load rating program, 656 bridges were identified on primary and secondary routes.
As we previously reported, in October, the SCDOT Commission approved funding boosts to the state’s 10-year plan based on anticipated funding increases associated with the federal bipartisan infrastructure package. Commissioners approved an increase of $69 million when it comes to bridges, bringing annual investment levels to $223 million.
This additional funding is timely given the need to rehab and replace aging bridges.
The following chart illustrates the 680 load-restricted and closed bridges across the state:
You will notice that there are a lot of bridges in the upstate. This is due to the terrain, soil conditions, and age of the structures.
Ultimately, Commissioners adopted revisions to the bridge program to focus on load-restricted bridges and provide flexibility to ensure expedited delivery in certain instances. They also adopted updated project lists for inclusion in the FY21-22 Load Restricted Bridge program.
Overview of Bridge Program Revisions:
- Creates a new category specifically for Load Restricted Bridges on the Primaries and prioritizes funding to drive the number posted to zero.* (Remember, primary roads carry 47% of traffic and serve as primary arteries for commutes and commerce.)
- Using the updated data, SCDOT plans to reprioritize the Load Restricted Bridge category for the Secondaries and fit it back into the program behind the Load Restricted Primaries.*
- Any previously approved projects included in the original “465” identified in the 10-year plan that are very far along in the project development pipeline or based on the re-ranking process as part of the Load Restricted Bridge Program will continue forward.
- Rankings are based on bridge condition/load rating factor; traffic, truck traffic, detour length & route significance; and local input.
- Ranked bridge projects will be evaluated for rehabilitation versus automatic replacement.
- SCDOT plans to deploy additional strategies to address structurally deficient bridges before they are posted.
- SCDOT plans to seek federal grants for major interstate bridge projects.
- SCDOT plans to immediately expedite the repair or replacement of any closed bridge on the network that is planned to be returned to service without the requirement to rank those projects. In addition, any interstate bridge that is in immediate jeopardy of becoming load restricted should be handled in a similarly expedited fashion.
*These prioritized lists will be developed in 2-year increments to align to inspection cycles and most current data.
FY21-22 Project Lists
Load Restricted Primary & Secondary
Primaries – 122 Bridges (including 17 previously approved)
Secondaries – 41 Bridges (including nine previously approved)
These lists reflect two years’ worth of projects.