I-77 southbound in Columbia reopens as bridge work concludes 30 …

By Jordan Lawrence

Traffic in and around Columbia will be back to normal next week.

The state Department of Transportation concluded bridge rehabilitation work along Interstate 77 in the counties of Lexington and Richland on April 22, finishing more than 30 hours ahead of schedule, according to a release.

The second phase of the project, which closed southbound lanes from Bluff Road to the Interstate 26 interchange starting the evening of April 14, rehabilitated eight bridges. The first phase, which also wrapped up about a day early on April 1, gave the same treatment to nine bridges going northbound along the same stretch.

The closures caused increased traffic on other major thoroughfares throughout the Columbia area.

“The successful completion of this project is just one example of the many critical bridge projects we are continuing to deliver across our state,” state Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall is quoted. “Our bridges connect people, they allow us to move freight without delay and they are vital in maintaining South Carolina’s booming economy. As an agency, we have planned strategically to repair and replace bridges before they reach the end of their useful life, and this project highlights that plan in action.” 

That freight aspect was an emphasis for DOT when it announced the project in December, with Lexington County’s Saxe Gothe Industrial Park and its Amazon and Nephron Pharmaceuticals facilities putting additional traffic onto I-77. Freight traffic in the area will only increase with the coming addition of a Chick-fil-A Supply distribution center to the park.

“Many of the 1,778 bridges on the Interstates and major Primary Routes are more than 60 years old and 63 percent are rapidly approaching the time for replacement or repair,” the department notes in the release. “SCDOT remains committed to identifying ways to make sure that these critical arteries remain open for the free flow of traffic. 

“Because of the volume of passenger and freight traffic, bridges along Interstate routes are a priority for the agency.”

Interstate work continues elsewhere around Lexington County, as the Carolina Crossroads project continues along its way to completely rework the “Malfunction Junction” interchange of I-26, Interstate 20 and Interstate 126, and the Midlands Connection project continues its widening efforts along I-26 from Little Mountain to Irmo.

DOT’s release notes that “more than 23 million vehicles travel Interstate 26 every year with 4.4 million of those in truck traffic,” which is about the same as Interstate 95 and markedly less than Interstate 85, which the release states sees more than 45 million vehicles each year (including 4.1 million trucks).

“Improving the Interstate network is an essential part of our Strategic 10-Year plan, and with the support of Governor McMaster and the General Assembly, we are making incredible progress on our interstate program,” Hall is quoted.

interstate 77 lexington county, columbia highway work, richland county bridge rehabilitation, scdot christy hall

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