Old Bridges to Be Used for Artificial Reefs

There are brand new bridges to cross if you're traveling Highway 170 in Beaufort County. That leaves two old bridges sitting there doing nothing, for now. But they will find a new purpose, under water. All of the scrapped steel and concrete from both old bridges is going toward a completely new use as artificial reefs.

To get help find out where those reefs should go, South Carolina's going to the people who know best. "Fishermen are not shy about giving you their opinion," noted Robert Martore, the Department of Natural Resources' reef coordinator.

At the Beaufort Sport Fishing Club meeting Thursday, many people said they want the artificial reefs to go up in the Broad River instead of offshore, since most boats can't handle deep water well. "It would really help to us old codgers to not have to go out where we shouldn't be because it's dangerous," one attendee told the crowd.

Robert Martore says using the old bridges ends up working out well for a lot of people, including those fishermen who get nice new fishing spots. "It helps us out because we get habitats in the water," he explained. "It helps out the county and state and the contractor because it's generally less expensive to put that material in the water than haul it up on land."

About half of the Broad River Bridge will end up becoming a new fishing pier, with a lot of the material settling in right next to it. The rest will be divided up into three other spots.

Some people at the meeting said they wanted all of the bridges kept right where they are for people to fish. But county officials say liability and lack of parking makes that impossible.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com