LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — A crane in the edge of the forest off 12th Street Extension in Cayce lifted a 105-foot steel bridge section Friday, carefully threading the massive structure through trees and gently into place over Congaree Creek.
Securing the bridge section to its base marks another milestone in the construction of what soon should be one of the prime outdoor recreation venues in the Midlands. The extension of the Timmerman Trail, built by SCANA through property it owns near its headquarters, hugs the winding, black water creek and a largely intact Civil War earthworks constructed to slow Gen. William T. Shermans march to Columbia.
The trail eventually will connect with the Cayce Riverwalk and a planned park that will focus on the rich history of the area over the past 10,000 years. But even standing by itself, the trail would be a magnet for hikers, runners and cyclists. Its the same sort of concrete walkway as the popular Riverwalk, but its more winding and enclosed by nature.
View Map of trail (link to new page)
The first nearly one-mile section of the trail was completed in 2012, hugging the bank of the creek from a small parking lot just off 12th Street Extension to Saxe Gotha Road near the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center. The new section is much longer, nearly two miles, forming a loop that crosses Congaree Creek twice via substantial steel bridges.
One of those bridges will be within sight of buildings in development along 12th Street Extension, but even there, SCANA is trying to preserve as many trees as possible. So the company brought in a special crane to lift the bridge high enough to slip through the small limbs high up in the remaining trees to buffer the creek.
The lift was delayed several times while workers with Cape Romain Contractors added stabilization to the crane to keep it from sinking into the soggy ground or slipping closer to the creek. The lifting itself took only a few minutes, and the 10-foot-wide bridge section forged by Contech Engineered Solutions was placed in line with the 210-foot portion of bridge already in place over a swampy section on the other side of the creek.
The other major bridge over the creek, in deeper woods closer to the Congaree River, is the last major piece to the SCANA portion of the trail. Company officials say they hope to have that bridge in place and have the trail open for use in the spring.
Cayce has plans to build one more piece of its Riverwalk, running from the current south end at the Thomas Newman boat landing to the eastern edge of the Timmerman Trails loop. Eventually, recreation enthusiasts who want to run or bike long distances will have nearly eight miles of connected trails from near U.S. 378 in West Columbia to the edge of the SCANA headquarters property on 12th Street Extension in Cayce.