Sep. 28—Travelers between Wagener and Couchton have a few more months to deal with detours, with the continuation of work to replace a bridge over the South Edisto River, where SC 4 and SC 302 overlap, near Aiken State Park.
A report from the S.C. Dept. of Transportation set Feb. 6 as the expected completion date for the project, which has Charlotte-based Crowder Construction as the primary contractor. An estimate from the DOT stated that the project, as of Sept. 20, was about 25-30 percent complete.
The affected area is between River Ridge Road, on the western side, and Flowing Well Road, to the east.
The DOT report indicated that the old bridge structure has been removed, "except for a few remaining timber piles on the Wagener side of the bridge," and that some piles have been driven and accepted, while others are to take their place in the next few days. Shoulder and slope embankment construction has begun on the Couchton side of the bridge.
Some local residents offered some thoughts on what the past 10 months have brought.
Chris Boyer, who lives in Wexford Mill, on the Wagener side of the bridge, confirmed that his commute to Aiken takes a little longer, but his major concern is that Coleman Bridge Road is now playing host to much more traffic than it was intended to support.
"That road was never designed to handle the amount of traffic that's coming down in now," Boyer said, noting that 18-wheelers and horse trailers are part of the mix.
Mike Poth, also a Wexford Mill resident, credited S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor (R-Aiken) with "a great job at keeping us all at Wexford Mill informed" regarding the replacement project.
Poth's only major complaint, he said, is regarding tractor-trailers going well above the speed limit while taking a detour. Some go 55-60 miles an hour in an area zoned for 35, he said.
Regarding the work itself, Poth said, "You can hear the progress .... it's getting closer and closer to the house. I can hear it louder in my driveway, which is great. I love it." He also noted that Coleman Bridge is taking a beating from the extra traffic.
Boyer touched on the speeding problem, noting that the Aiken County Sheriff's Office has had deputies in the area, especially when the project first began, to encourage would-be speeders to respect the limits. He said he would welcome more such visits.
Plenty of local residents, he said, are retired and likely to be on the road walking their dogs or riding in golf carts.
"Normally, it's very quiet, but it can also be dangerous, with some of those speeders flying through there."
An Aiken Standard story from early February noted that since the bridge's closure, drivers have used a 30-mile detour that involves using U.S. 78 and S.C. 39 as alternative routes.
The plan was for traffic to be directed to State Park Road and Hatchaway Bridge Road. Trucks heading west to Aiken were encouraged to use Interstate 20 or travel through Springfield via S.C. 39.