Bridges: a big issue in South Carolina

Published: May. 14, 2014 at 10:27 PM EDT|Updated: May. 14, 2014 at 10:45 PM EDT
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SOCASTEE, SC (WMBF) -  One out of every five bridges in South Carolina is in poor condition.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation maintains 8,416 bridges and of those, only 66 percent are in good condition.

That means there are bridges drivers cross, everyday, labeled substandard - meaning the bridges' design is outdated; deficient - which indicates there may be a problem in the future even though there isn't one right now; or obsolete, that means there may be something wrong and it needs to be checked out.

This is more than a local problem.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave bridges in America a C+ in the group's infrastructure report card last year. The study shows, in 2011, more than 80 bridges in Horry and Florence counties, combined, did not meet national bridge inspection standards.

SCDOT says this sounds much worse than it is, the problem is slowly improving. Our state-owned bridges are an average of 43 years old, so many times this just means crews have to keep an eye on the bridge, which is exactly what they do. SDCOT on average ends up inspecting around 5,600 bridges each year.

SCDOT says our state has been severely under funded when it comes to road maintenance, a big issue for our state. They have a group dedicated to checking the bridges year round, but says the solution to the problem is more money to improve our roads.

According to ASCE, in 2011, South Carolina got $63 million dollars less from the federal highway bridge fund, than neighboring North Carolina.

The SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads is one organization pushing lawmakers for change. The group says we haven't seen this change because the big solution would be a higher gas tax, which has not been increased in decades.

Infrastructure improvement was a top plea the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, put forth in a session on Capitol Hill, just last week. The chamber says safety on our roads is paramount to our state's economic success. Local leaders are worried if we don't address the issue, it could have a direct impact on tourism.

One way you can reach out to elected officials to fix our roads:

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