ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Construction barriers have gone up along a two-mile stretch of Interstate 77 in preparation for emergency bridge repair in Rock Hill.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation has closed two of the four northbound lanes to allow crews work space to replace a 70-foot section of the bridge off Celanese Road.
Construction engineer John Hustkins is heading the project for SCDOT. He said less than two weeks ago they discovered major flaws on the bridge and had temporarily patched up the cracks while they worked to get the emergency funds to fix a bridge in dire need.
“We are seeing places on the deck of this bridge where the vibrations and cracking got to a point that the concrete is breaking loose through the reinforced steel and falling through, creating holes in the bridge deck,” Hustkins said.
He added that the contractor has committed two crews to work 12-hour shifts around the clock.
The original plans were to begin the project June 25, but preparation began at 5 p.m. Monday in hopes of speeding up the process.
Weather permitting, the contractor anticipates the project to be completed before the busy Fourth of July travel weekend, or by July 8.
Two right lanes of I-77 northbound will be closed from approximately mile marker 80 (north of Dave Lyle Boulevard interchange) to mile marker 82 (north of the Celanese Road interchange).
Rock Hill residents are not looking forward to how this will affect the morning rush hour and evening commute.
“You have to watch out for all the road workers, watch out for crazy drivers out there, just be careful,” said Jesse Ellkins.
These repairs come as South Carolina and bridges across the country face increasing scrutiny.
"We have large numbers of bridges in South Carolina in need of repair. The way the funding situation is, there is just not enough money to do major maintenance. Here we are trying to patch things as we go along until we find the funding to fix it," said Hustkins.
On Monday, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill that could raise up to $1 billion for the state’s bridges and roads.
The Transportation department projects the state would require another $1.5 billion annually to bring existing infrastructure into good condition.