Two I-77 southbound lanes closed after hole found in Catawba River bridge

jzou@heraldonline.comJuly 24, 2013 

— Two southbound lanes on Interstate 77 near Rock Hill were closed after state Department of Transportation engineers discovered a footwide hole in a bridge deck over the Catawba River.

The two southbound lanes were closed starting Wednesday afternoon from Exit 82 at Cherry Road to Exit 83 at Sutton Road. The lanes are expected to reopen by the morning rush hour on Monday, pending repairs, according to a DOT news release.

DOT advised drivers to steer clear of that section of the interstate and consider alternative routes.

The hole, located at the 82.5 mile marker, is the third officials have discovered on I-77 since June, prompting lane closures.

In June, DOT officials found a hole near the Porter Road exit in Rock Hill. Earlier this month, they also found a hole on the bridge deck over Harris Road.

Perry Crocker, assistant district maintenance manager for DOT in Chester County, said that officials discovered the hole Wednesday during routine inspections of bridge decks.

He said the department recently ramped up inspections in light of the other holes.

“Their lifespans (are) getting shorter by the day,” Crocker said of the current condition of the bridge decks. He said the delays in making repairs stem from limited repair personnel.

DOT officials cited aging infrastructure as the cause behind the hole Wednesday and said it was not weather-related.

On average, close to 100,000 vehicles, including tractor-trailers, utilize that stretch of I-77 on a typical weekday for commutes to and from Charlotte as well as within York County.

S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, said the state needs to make road infrastructure a priority to avoid serious damage in the future.

“There’s no easy fix,” Norman said, adding that the money currently dedicated to maintaining roads is inadequate. “DOT is short-staffed as it is. It’s going to take every engineer in every local department to see where is the problem.”

Norman said he thinks the holes are a widespread problem for York County. He was recently notified of road cavities along S.C. 160 in front of Walmart when it became a question of who would fund repairs – the state or Tega Cay.

“The whole issue is the dollar,” he said.

While the lanes are closed for repair, Crocker said DOT will also be looking into any preventive measures to secure other areas on the interstate.

Jie Jenny Zou• 803-329-4062

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