The Bridge Investment Program has already made significant strides in the past fiscal year, with $2.4 billion being invested in 2022. This program is a crucial component of the government's efforts to revamp the nation's bridges and represents the largest dedicated investment in bridge infrastructure since the construction of the Interstate Highway System.
In the Construction area, two projects set to benefit from this funding are: the replacement of six bridges in Union County, South Carolina, and the rehabilitation of the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.
- U.S. 176 over Padgetts Creek
- S.C. 72 over Coxs Creek
- S.C. 215 over Fairforest Creek
- S.C. 49 over Tyger River
- S.C. 49 over Fairforest Creek
- S.C. 114 over Sandy Run Creek
The project will bring safety benefits to the region through improvements such as shoulder widening, rumble strips, and guardrails. Additionally, the project will accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians by constructing wide shoulders. Local communities rely heavily on the bridges, which serve as transportation routes for traveling to work and school and for transporting goods across the state and region.
“It [this project] addresses communities with historic issues of poverty and communities that are maybe not always getting the same benefits that folks in Greenville and in Colombia get in terms of economic opportunity,” said Justin Powell, Chief of Staff at SCDOT. “So I think a project like this not only tackles a big engineering problem with the structures' conditions, but also helps provide an opportunity for better-paying jobs and economic opportunities for a community that is in need of them. I think that is a win-win for everybody involved.”
The six bridges in Union County serve as vital cross-connectors between national freight routes, with approximately 13,300 vehicles, including over 1,900 trucks, crossing them daily. Ranging from 68 to 100 years old, the bridges are approaching the end of their 75-year lifespan and are currently load-restricted, requiring freight haulers, farmers, and emergency vehicles to take longer detour routes. Without this replacement project, the bridges would eventually close to traffic, leading to increased costs due to the longer detours. This project will ensure the safe and reliable use of these routes for local traffic and transportation of goods in Union County.
SCDOT estimates that the project will begin in mid-2024 and will take around four years to complete. This project is part of SCDOT's ongoing efforts to repair and replace aging bridges throughout South Carolina, with 274 bridge replacements or repairs already completed or underway since 2017.
"The needs are great in our state as we recover from more than 30 years of deferred funding and deferred maintenance, and bridges are a key part of SCDOT's 10-Year Strategic Plan," said Christy A. Hall, P.E., South Carolina Secretary of Transportation. "We are not only looking to replace and rehabilitate closed and load restricted bridges. Looking ahead, we see the need and are advocating for additional state funding of $200 million per year over the next five years to tackle bridges just like this on our Interstate network so that we can prevent them from having a closure or weight restriction on a major route."
The 73-year-old bridge is in poor condition and carries over 88,400 vehicles, including more than 3,500 trucks, each day. Significant deterioration of several bridge components have led to constant maintenance efforts and the current closure of the bridge's shoulder. Since 2006, the bridge has undergone three rehabilitations.
The $90 million project will address safety issues and repair or replace deteriorating safety-critical bridge elements, including the bascule span, steel barriers, and fender and dolphin systems. Other work includes concrete repair, steel repair, and bridge preservation actions, including expansion joint repair/replacement and bearing replacement. Additionally, the project will bring the roadway shoulder back into use, enhancing safety and reliability for commuters.
This rehabilitation project is a high priority for DDOT because the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge handles one of the highest traffic volumes among all of the bridges in Washington, D.C. The improvements will minimize maintenance-related closures, reducing severe traffic congestion in the D.C. region.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is investing in this bridge rehabilitation project because it will provide much-needed congestion relief and safety improvements for commuters in the D.C. metro area,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Over the next five years, the Bridge Investment Program will work to repair, replace, and rehabilitate structures that allow businesses to move their goods to market while helping people get to jobs, schools, doctors, and other vital destinations. This project is an investment in both the United States’ economic growth and in the safety and long-term resilience of the communities that make this country great.”