In Richland County, 84,575 drivers a day will be forced to take new routes after 13 roads and bridges washed out during flooding on Sunday and Monday.
And those roads are just a small part of a much larger problem. Across the county, more than 100 roads and bridges were closed Tuesday because of flooding.
Across the Midlands and the state, tens of thousands of other drivers are being affected, too. More than 30 roads and bridges were impassable in Lexington County and another 40 were affected in Kershaw County.
Transportation Department officials have started their preliminary assessment of the condition of the state’s roads. But it will take months and hundreds of millions of dollars to repair all of the damage.
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Gov. Nikki Haley advised drivers Tuesday to respect road closures.
As the rain ended Tuesday and traffic picked up, more residents were driving. Some, she added, were ignoring road barriers, driving around them.
“This is not safe,” Haley said. “We want to make sure every bridge and every road that you put your car on is safe.”
Twenty-eight assessment teams were working Tuesday with county emergency divisions and local Transportation Department offices to evaluate roads, Haley said.
By Tuesday afternoon, 1,445 Transportation Department employees were working on the state’s roads. But it will be several more days before water levels are low enough to fully assess damages in every location, according to the Transportation Department.
A total of 17 roads and bridges are washed out completely in Richland County, according to the Transportation Department. Traffic counts were not available for four. However, the loss of the other 13 roads and bridges alone will affect more than 84,500 drivers a day.
For example, a sink hole has closed part of North Main Street, which handles 13,700 vehicles a day on average. The undermining of a bridge on Monticello Road, from Interstate 20 to Peeples Street, will displace another 8,700 drivers a day.
Some traffic bottlenecks were cleared up Tuesday.
Interstate 26, between Interstate 126 and U.S. 378, reopened at the Saluda River.
And parts of a 74-mile section of Interstate 95, from Interstate 26 to Interstate 20, were reopened. In Clarendon County, that interstate carries 28,900 vehicles a day on average.
Repairing roads will take a combination of federal, state and local resources, said state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland.
The repairs will be complicated, Lourie said, noting roads sit atop dams in some locations, including his district, which includes the Arcadia Lakes area, hit by a series of dam breaches and failures.
While the state’s roads already were deteriorating, the damages caused by the weekend’s rain were catastrophic, Lourie added. “No state could ever plan for something like this.”
In Kershaw County, seven bridges and 36 roads were closed early Tuesday, county officials said. State officials put that number lower — at about two dozen.
Acting county spokesman Gerald Blanchard said 24 Kershaw County roads had significant damage.
For example, part of the road and a bridge were lost on Porter Cross Road. “It’s a complete loss right now,” Blanchard said.
Secondary roads carry Kershaw County residents to and from work, school and everywhere else they go, Blanchard said.
“It’s just going to be a huge inconvenience for the county and residents of the county for months to come.”
Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.
Displaced drivers in Richland County
The five busiest roads and bridges, based on average daily traffic, closed in Richland County as of late Tuesday
26,200 drivers a day used Decker Boulevard, now partially washed out
13,700 drivers a day used North Main Street, now the site of a sink hole
10,200 drivers a day used Spears Creek Church Road, where a bridge is washed out
8,900 drivers a day used Polo Road, now washed out in several places
8,700 drivers a day used Monticello Road, now partially closed by an undermined bridge