NEWBERRY — Some community members expressed disappointment Tuesday with the S.C. Department of Transportation on the developing plans of the Boundary Street Bridge project.
SCDOT held a public meeting at Boundary Street Elementary School to update the community on the project’s progress. This followed the first meeting held last March.
Harrington Street resident Lisa Senn, a member of the city of Newberry’s Architectural Review Board, said she was pleased with the changes made from the last meeting but was still concerned with unanswered questions.
Senn said the SCDOT has not answered some pressing questions she has with some of the aesthetics of the new bridge.
Roger Sears, program manager with SCDOT, said the purpose of the project was to correct the structural and geometric deficiencies of the Boundary Street Bridge.
The existing bridge, Sears said, was built in 1925 and needs to be replaced because it currently is considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.
“Bridges typically are only designed for 50 years and this design is outdated,” Sears said.
Sears said the three options for SCDOT were to do nothing, which leaves the bridge unable to meet current requirements for clearance of railroad tracks; rehabilitate the bridge, which Sears said would be considered a short-term fix, or replace it.
“The issue in the bridge is in the supports,” Sears said. “That is only fixed through replacement.”
SCDOT has decided the best option is to replace the bridge in its current location. Sears said the new bridge will be taller and wider and meet current standards.
Thanks to work with the University of South Carolina, Sears said they were able to get the retaining walls below 8 to 12 feet which was originally their estimate. The new height was not available.
Senn said she was disappointed that SCDOT would not answer questions like that — the height of the retaining wall — as she was concerned with people walking by and the height of the walls.
Another concern of Senn’s was the “pleasing curvature” of the bridge now, which she feels beautifies the entrance downtown.
“What materials will SCDOT be using?” Senn asked. Her hope was that another meeting would be held where more of the community’s questions would be answered.
Sears said SCDOT has been working with the Newberry Historical Society for rendering the current historical structure of the bridge into the new one.
Larry Hazel lives on Boundary Street, as does Lillie Hunter. Both spoke Tuesday evening. Hazel said he was worried the widening of the road will affect the frontage of his home.
His daughter also lives on the street and because her home’s roadside frontage is even smaller than his, he was concerned for her.
“They said before it might be two feet,” Hazel said. “I’m OK with that, but I would hate to see it go any farther.”
Hunter spoke in favor of the project, saying she was glad they had chosen not to close the bridge.
“I hope this lasts longer than 50 years,” she said.
The projected construction cost estimate is $2.4 million. The project is included in the SCDOT’s 2010-2015 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
The bridge is eligible for funding through the Federal Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.
Sears said that in the fall, SCDOT would begin the right of way phase, which means they will work with property owners to buy the needed property.
Construction is expected to begin late 2015 and end late in 2017. For more information about the project, visit www.scdot.org. The information is under the public hearing headline.
Contact Sears at 737-1142 for more information about the project. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.