Lessons to be learned from the Wando River bridge closure, among them promoting responsible density

Lessons must be learned from the recent near three week closure of the westbound lanes of the I-526 Wando River bridge, according to a senior member of Charleston's Metro Chamber of Commerce.

The partial closure of the bridge due to a broken cable caused traffic chaos, and reignited the debate over infrastructure investment in the region, and responsible density.

"The recent Wando Bridge closure underscores the need to continue investing in expansions to our region’s transportation mobility network," Ian Scott, senior vice president of advocacy with the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, told the Palmetto Business Daily.

He added, "Maintenance, new road connections, enhanced transit options – as we continue growing, all are essential to ensure commuters arrive at work on time and the economy keeps humming."

Ian Scott, senior vice president of advocacy with the Charleston Chamber of Commerce.  

And Scott also noted that the region tends to abandon plans for responsible density, pointing out that 51,000 people commute in and out of East Cooper along I-526 every day, with only 11,000 living and working in the area.

The westbound lanes of the James B. Edwards Bridge were immediately shut down May 14 following an inspection that revealed a broken cable that provides crucial support. They reopened June 2.

At a press conference held after the reopening, State Transportation Secretary Christy Hall assured motorists the bridge was completely safe.

But Hall also said the bridge had problems from its opening in the early 1990s. Rainwater over the years caused corrosion to the cables, particularly to the one that broke in May.

Transportation Secretary Hall was back in the area Wednesday to discuss the department's 10-year plan on infrastructure and transportation with the Charleston Regional Development Alliance. It envisages replacing half of what are described as the 750 structurally deficient bridges in the state.

It is being made possible because of the ACT 40 Roads Bill passed by the legislature that freed up money to pay for infrastructure improvements.

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