Lake Marion walking bridge to close permanently

by | August 4, 2017 9:40 am

The U.S. 301 bridge won’t be open for the total solar eclipse Aug. 21.
But it won’t be open afterward, either, according to state Department of Transportation District 7 Engineering Administrator Kevin Gant.
“The last few inspections we’ve had on the bridge have brought into question the structural integrity of the bridge,” Gant said Friday. “We were concerned with the eclipse, because a lot of people are going to look for an area to observe. A large amount of people on that bridge at one time, we knew that would be unsafe.”
Gant said that his office took a further look at the bridge and realized it should be closed permanently to all pedestrian traffic.
“Looking at the condition of the bridge, we thought it would be a risk at any time,” he said. “We had thought of closing it off to pedestrian traffic for the eclipse, definitely, but right now, I don’t see reopening the bridge. Work would have to be done to bring it back up to the standard to be acceptable. It’s an older structure that we did not take out of service.”
Gant said that the overall condition of the bridge deck is “in bad shape.”
“Also, from looking underneath, we can see where debris has fallen from the bridge into the lake,” he said. “It costs too much to maintain.”
Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart said the closure is a blow not just for pedestrians, cyclists and others who use the 1.8-mile bridge linking Clarendon and Orangeburg counties for exercise. Rather, it serves as a blow to the Palmetto Trail and a project that downtown Summerton and Santee were hoping to get off the ground in the coming years.
Stewart is part of a committee that heard from the Palmetto Trail Conservation Service earlier this year. The organization talked about beautifying the bridge, which is a portion of the statewide trail, and linking downtown Summerton to downtown Santee while also beautifying those areas as well.
“It’s really going to hamper things,” said Stewart. “The trail, of course, will have to be rerouted. The next crossing is at Rimini on the railroad trestle. I don’t think they’d let you cross there. I guess there’s not another crossing until you get to U.S. 378.”
County Controller Lynden Anthony, who was also a part of those meetings, also lamented the news of the bridge’s closure.
“The trail organization is aware of the issue and what has transpired as a result of the structural integrity study that was done,” Anthony said. “I would imagine, of course, that the trail will have to be moved.”
Anthony said the county looking to a Transportation Alternatives Program grant with the Department of Transportation in March. The grant would have provided funds to beautify the bridge and make it a “park-like” atmosphere, Anthony said.
“That would bring it in line with the plans that the conservation group had for the area,” he said.
DOT, he noted, decided to do a structural integrity study as a result of the county’s interest in applying for the grant.
“Of course, word came back that the engineers who performed that analysis said the on-site review had deemed the bridge as unsafe,” Anthony said. “That’s when we were informed of their plans to put barricades up for the eclipse.”
Anthony said that he and Stewart, however, had no ideas about the bridge closing permanently.
“That was a complete shock,” he said. “I don’t know what form that barricade will take, but I know pedestrians won’t be able to get over it, around it or through it.”
Gant said Friday that the barricade would include fencing.
“Right now, we have barricades on each end,” he said. “We’re going to put some fencing up to prohibit people from walking through on each side,”
Stewart said he hopes Summerton, the county, Orangeburg County and Santee can work together to find some type of funding to fix the dilapidated bridge.
“We would have to do that in conjunction with those other jurisdictions,” said Stewart.
However, Anthony said that any such project would have to get DOT approval.
“DOT owns the bridge,” he said. “Unless they fund it themselves, they would have to allow such a project.”

comments » 19

  1. Comment by Dan Geddings

    August 4, 2017 at 15:03

    Just more evidence of DOT’s incompetence and lack of regard for the people of South Carolina

  2. Comment by John Merkel

    August 4, 2017 at 15:38

    A good example of a lack of planning letting an asset turn into an afterthought, which will someday just turn into a memory.

  3. Comment by Clay Young

    August 4, 2017 at 18:47

    How are thy going to fund th demolition. Especially since it is falling into the lake perhaps on passing boaters.

  4. Comment by Deanna Jeffreys

    August 4, 2017 at 19:46

    where there is a will there is a way…………suggestions please……

  5. Comment by Scott

    August 4, 2017 at 19:46

    So sad. I workout on that bridge ever day I can. It’s a great place to walk or run. If they think it is so unsafe, why do they let boats go used it. it makes no sense.

  6. Comment by Tlhendrickson

    August 4, 2017 at 21:31

    In total agreement with the two previous comments. What can be done to stop the closing of this bridge?

  7. Comment by Bridgett Tausend

    August 5, 2017 at 10:32

    As a Community there are steps that can be taken.
    1) We can contact the DOT asking what exactly needs to be fixed to keep the Bridge in tact.

    2) After Receiving the information hold Community meeting to discuss ways to meet the corrective actions to be taken.

    3) Lobby your State Law Makers to help rectify the situation.

    4)Gather as a Community in Sending Signed Petitions to our State Representatives.

    5) If necessary put our Money Where our Mouth is,
    Higher a Grant Writer.

    6) If we are able to move forward,
    Have Commities to oversee the different steps moving forward.
    Corrective Action
    Restriction for waste and Debris on the Bridge.

    Volunteers for waste removal and overall Appearance and up keep.

  8. Comment by Amy Magaw

    August 5, 2017 at 11:48

    Someone needs to spearhead this task. Someone with with good credibility and connections in the community needs to take charge and bring this campaign to a start. This is a huge undertaking, and I don’t know where to begin. Organization will be key. Just show me what to do and where to sign, and I will. Columbia should not be the only place with nice bridges connecting communities. This bridge means a lot to many people, and making it a “park” status is the perfect way to connect and preserve part of our history. Maybe it could be protected by being deemed a historical landmark! Tourism could also be increased if it were opened like a pier @ Myrtle Beach with concession and/bait carts for people fishing on the bridge. Someone with the know-how, please step up! Thanks!

  9. Comment by Clint Plyler

    August 5, 2017 at 16:54

    The entire i95 lake intersection area is a massive assett to the state. In other states that area would be a booming resort area. I can’t understand why the cities, counties, and state, cannot see that bridge as a potential asset for development. Repair the bridge! It must be cheaper to repair it then would be to tear it down or build a new one. It seems that the Santee region is somehow stuck in the past. Repair the bridge and open it up for vendors.

  10. Comment by Neil Myers

    August 5, 2017 at 18:01

    What a shame just returned from a 50!mile ride across the bridge Teh. Back to Euatwville. Could by my last time!

  11. Comment by Monica Simon

    August 6, 2017 at 00:30

    Neil Myers it was the walking bridge not the main bridge.

  12. Comment by Donna Patterson

    August 6, 2017 at 17:19

    I’m happy to help with any fundraising to keep the bridge open. These is absolutely no reason that the walking bridge can’t be used for good for both Santee and Summerton communities. Any given time there are several people enjoying the bridge for various reasons and creating a park area would be wonderful for residents and visitors alike.

    In my typical tongue-in-cheek humor, I suggest the effort be called: SoB, Save our Bridge!

  13. Comment by Donna Patterson

    August 6, 2017 at 17:21

    *There* not “These”

  14. Comment by Meleda Stephens

    August 7, 2017 at 10:13

    I live near the 301 bridge, and have enjoyed walking/running on it for 20 years. Would it be more of an asset to repair it than to keep it in disrepair and demolish it ? Hazard to boats under it, people , etc.
    Please repair it ! I think it will be even more unique in the coming years. The older the more attraction.

    Thank you,
    Meleda Stephens
    Scott Lake Rd
    Summerton S.C.

  15. Comment by Peter

    August 7, 2017 at 12:21

    How much to demolish bridge versus reinforce for walking traffic? This is not a good decision for residents, tourism, hikers, fishermen…

  16. Comment by Beth Bakehorn

    August 7, 2017 at 22:55

    Please don’t close the bridge. My family and I have come to Santee for the past 2 years from Bloomongton, Indiana. One of the highlights of our trip is walking the bridge. Was hoping to come to Santee and walk it again with friends and family. I will literally cry if I can see it but can’t walk it with my family. The view from bridge is incredible, perfect for photo’s.

  17. Comment by Patrick Bean

    August 9, 2017 at 08:15

    They need to fix the roads before a dilapidated non functioning bridge

  18. Comment by WILLIAM NANCOLLAS

    August 15, 2017 at 19:30


  19. Comment by J. Parker

    August 16, 2017 at 11:55

    Wow! So sad this bridge will not be open for the eclipse. Many people planning to visit that are for the eclipse will be disappointed if they expect the bridge to be open. And, many will not visit the area if the find out it will not be open. Such the perfect place to view the eclipse. I wonder why the local governments and DOT are not advertising or announcing that this bridge will be closed. Of course, I get it, they don’t want to miss those tourism dollars. They would rather have people disappointed. Afterwhich, they will never return there again.

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