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Garners Ferry reopens; almost 100 Richland roads remain closed

Garners Ferry Road reopened to traffic Thursday afternoon following historic floods throughout the state on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5.
Garners Ferry Road reopened to traffic Thursday afternoon following historic floods throughout the state on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5. South Carolina Department of Transportation

Traffic flowed once again on Garners Ferry Road Thursday, more than a week after it was submerged in historic floods.

Part of Columbia’s North Main Street, near Elmwood Park, also reopened.

But it could be Thanksgiving or later before the state knows how much it will cost to repair its roads and bridges, acting S.C. Transportation Department chief Christy Hall said Thursday.

“We are still very much underway with assessments,” Hall told the commission that oversees the Transportation Department. “We still have water on roads in Georgetown County.”

The number of roads and bridges closed statewide peaked at 541 on Oct. 5. That number was 251 Thursday, down 30 from Wednesday.

Richland County had 97 state roads and bridges closed Thursday, a number slowly shrinking as roads reopened. At the peak of the flooding, 133 Richland roads and bridges were closed, according to the Transportation Department.

Sumter County was the state’s second-hardest-hit county. At the flood’s peak that county had 70 impassable roads and bridges. Thursday, that number was down to 23.

Lexington County had 14 state roads and bridges closed Thursday, down from 52 at the flood’s peak.

The reopening of Garners Ferry Road Thursday came as a relief for commuters from Sumter, Eastover, Lower Richland, Hopkins and Horrell Hill who drive into Columbia. Garners Ferry had been closed since Oct. 4 at the intersection of Devine Street, Cross Hill Road and Fort Jackson Boulevard.

Other good news for Columbia commuters includes:

▪  Work is to start Friday to repair Forest Drive, now partially open. The goal is to complete those repairs by the end of the month, said Andy Leaphart, chief engineer for Transportation Department operations.

▪  Nina Lee Drive reopened, helping reduce the detour time for Monticello Road traffic, Leaphart said. State maintenance workers have been repairing the washed-out roadway on Monticello Road on both sides of a bridge over Crane Creek at Interstate 20. That repair is expected to be completed early next week.

On Thursday, 29 major S.C. highways remained closed statewide, including 11 in Richland County.

After fixing those primary roads, the Transportation Department will repair high-volume secondary roads, roads near schools and roads near critical needs, such as fire departments, Hall said.

The Transportation Department is working on a timeline laying out the roads that will be repaired by the end of October, the roads that will be fixed by Thanksgiving and those where repairs will take longer. Hall said a draft of that list soon will be available.

The road repairs will be paid for with money from a variety of sources, including the federal government, according to the Transportation Department.

Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657.

Storm recovery facts

Wednesday, the Transportation Department had:

1,470 highway workers deployed across the state

251 state roads and bridges closed

15 debris collection trucks and trailers operating in Dorchester, Lexington, Richland and Sumter counties

3.4 million total visits — and climbing — to its road-conditions web page since the start of the flood

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