The bridge crossed by thousands of residents and tourists headed onto Hilton Head Island every day is listed among South Carolina’s 25 most structurally deficient, according to a new study.
More than 27,000 vehicles travel over the U.S. 278 eastbound span, built in 1956, over Mackay Creek each day, said the report released this week from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, a nonpartisan trade organization.
The Karl S. Bowers Bridge, as it is formally named, is among 926 structurally deficient bridges in South Carolina.
That means nearly 10 percent of the state’s total of 9,341 bridges have a key element deemed to be in poor or worse condition by a Federal Highway Administration inspection.
Also on the Top 25 list is the Interstate 95 southbound overpass that crosses S.C. 46 in Hardeeville. That bridge, built in 1968, sees more than 26,000 vehicles each day.
Concerns about the condition of the Hilton Head bridge — and bridges and roads in general in South Carolina — are not new.
The state has identified needed repairs on 1,569 bridges with an estimated cost of $865.1 million, the ARTBA report said.
Lawmakers overrode Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto last May to enact a gas-tax hike. The additional funds are meant to fund the state’s infrastructure repairs.
Inspectors reported that the older bridge showed cracks and some signs of corrosion in a 2010 report commissioned by the Town of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County.
Beaufort County officials also are considering ways to fund the widening or replacing of the aging Hilton Head bridge, which had a likely lifespan of 50 years when it was constructed nearly 62 years ago.
“Imagine what would happen if part of the bridge were to collapse,” County Councilman Brian Flewelling said in October.