Will Beaufort Co. bridges close if Hurricane Florence fuels high winds? Here’s what we know

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

Beaufort County law enforcement officials don’t expect to close any bridges in the county during Hurricane Florence.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to cross them.

Once sustained wind speeds reach 39 mph, regular patrol vehicles — the department’s Dodge Chargers and Ford Explorers — will be unable to cross bridges, according to Lt. Col. Neil Baxley, director of the county’s emergency management division said Wednesday during a news conference.

“All drivers are encouraged to avoid causeways and bridges with wind speeds that high,” Capt. Bob Bromage of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

The tropical-storm force winds would put vehicles in danger, Bromage said. The Sheriff’s Office is prepared to combat those winds when crossing bridges, but only with heavier vehicles.

Other risks include high water on causeways leading up to bridges.

When asked Thursday if he had concerns about structural damage the bridges may take during the storm and residents using them to leave, Hilton Head Town Manager Steve Riley said no.

“Every day, we see that bridge is filled with people for the morning and evening rush hour,” Riley said. “I’d have more down field concerns if everyone tried to leave at once, but the bridges wouldn’t have to handle anything differently than they do.”

Bromage added that bridges would only be closed if an evacuation was ordered with lane reversals. There has been no such order for Beaufort County from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

This story will be updated.