O’Neal Bridge construction on track despite flooding

by Student Writer Kaitlyn Davis

As the temperature continues to decrease, so do precautions on O’Neal Bridge.

Drivers need to be cautious on all bridges, especially those over water, because in the winter months they tend to ice easily, said Florence Traffic Division Motor Officer Nick Brown.

Brown said people should pay more attention when crossing O’Neal Bridge because of the ongoing construction.

“The big thing is make sure you’re obeying the speed limits and make sure you’re paying attention when you go across the bridge because when you’re down to one lane it does make traffic a little bit more difficult,” Brown said.

He said none of the Christmas Day flooding in Florence affected the bridge. Brown said luckily the construction equipment was not on the bridge, and the water did not get high enough to damage anything.

The flooding reached Savannah Highway Christmas Day, causing many traffic complications, but no harm to the construction machinery.

He said since the construction started, the speed limit has been changed to 25 mph.

Brown said construction on the bridge began March 19, 2015, and is expected to be completed December 30, 2017.

“They’re about 37 percent complete with phase one,” Brown said.

He said phase one consists of sandblasting, a technique to remove rust, and repainting. The rest of the project includes reconstruction and concrete work.

Since tractor-trailers are too big to cross the bridge and pose a hazard to construction workers, they are not allowed on the bridge. Brown said officers have to escort these vehicles off of the bridge when they attempt to drive over it.

“It’s difficult, it has to be slow and it has to be precise to get (the tractor-trailers) through there,” Brown said.

He said the tractor-trailer problem is not as dangerous right now because there are not any construction workers working on top of the bridge.

He said Wilson Dam and Singing River Bridge are alternative routes drivers can take if they notice traffic congestion on the bridge.

Senior Sally Stone said she has had trouble crossing the bridge due to “minor traffic delays because of the tight lanes.”