Beaufort County bridges won’t close before Michael — but may be dangerous, officials say

Staff file photo of Hilton Head bridges.
Staff file photo of Hilton Head bridges.

Beaufort County bridges, including the bridges to Hilton Head Island, will not close before Hurricane Michael, according to Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner.

However, officials urge motorists that traveling across bridges in the next 24 hours could be extremely dangerous.

Tanner said in a 1 p.m. news conference that the storm will likely impact the county between 3 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Thursday, and he recommended residents and visitors stay off the roads and elevated bridges.

According to the National Hurricane Center, the Lowcountry could start seeing tropical storm level winds starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Tanner urged residents in Beaufort County to not use roadways and stay home if possible from tonight through tomorrow afternoon to be safe.

Tanner said the wind gusts of up to 40 mph “could surprise you” while driving on elevated bridges in the county and make it harder to maintain control of a car.

A portion of U.S. 278 on Hilton Head near Wexford Plantation and the Town of Hilton Head Island offices was temporarily closed on Tuesday night around 7 p.m. due to flash flooding, according to Lt. Col. Neil Baxley, director of the county’s emergency management division and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Capt. Bob Bromage.

Baxley said that SCDOT “will be closing the Woods Bridge and Harbor River bridge to marine traffic only at 4 p.m. Wednesday,” but will be open to road traffic.

Hilton Head bridges will be closed only if an evacuation with lane reversals ordered, The Island Packet has reported in coverage of previous storm threats.

No evacuations have been ordered in South Carolina for Hurricane Michael.

Talmadge Bridge in Savannah will be closed to all traffic starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Travel on elevated roads and bridges, especially high profile, could be an issue here,” Ron Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, said.

Here are other routes to use when the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge is closed.