A section of U.S. 17 that spans a northern Beaufort County creek and is scheduled for replacement has crept up AAA Carolinas' list of the state's 20 most substandard bridges.
The Albergotti Creek bridge, built on Trask Parkway in 1948, moved up from No. 11 to No. 9 on the rankings released Friday and has been on the AAA Carolinas list for at least seven years.
Federal and state officials said earlier this year that plans to replace it inched forward when a half acre owned by Marines Corps Air Station Beaufort cleared a mandatory review by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That property is expected to be used for the new bridge.
The project, estimated to cost about $5 million and take about 18 months, is scheduled to begin next year, Beaufort County engineering and infrastructure director Rob McFee said in January. Attempts Friday to reach McFee for comment were unsuccessful.
The 64-year-old bridge will be replaced with a slightly wider and longer crossing, S.C. Department of Transportation officials have said. The bridge is east of the air station along a stretch of U.S. 21 that connects northern Beaufort County to Interstate 95. It also serves as a hurricane evacuation route.
For several years, AAA Carolinas has deemed the bridge "structurally deficient" and "functionally obsolete" under federal guidelines. But DOT officials have maintained that the bridge is still safe.
About 28,400 vehicles cross it every day, and the DOT estimates that number will increase to about 42,000 vehicles daily by 2030.
The Albergotti bridge is the only such structure in Beaufort, Jasper or Hampton counties on the list.
Topping this year's AAA Carolinas list is a 54-year-old bridge in Richland County that carries more than 500,000 vehicles a week. The I-26 bridge that passes over C.N. and L. Railroad, three miles northwest of Columbia, has topped the list every year except one since 2000.
Charleston County had the most on the list with six among the top 20 substandard bridges. Richland and Lexington counties each had three bridges on the list.
The DOT estimates that maintenance, repair and replacement for state-owned bridges costs about $200 million a year.
- Project to replace 'substandard' bridge moves forward, Jan. 5, 2012
- List of AAA Carolina's top 20 substandard bridges