Up close Look at McTeer Bridge Repairs

If you have to drive around Beaufort, you know all about the headaches since the damage to the McTeer Bridge. Wondering what they're doing to fix it? Well we all have been too. So, we went to new heights to find out.

We met up with contractors at the top of the bridge earlier today and just being up there you realize how extensive and complex this repair work really is and why it's going to take so long to complete.

Since a boom crane on a barge hit the McTeer Bridge a few weeks ago, Rion Salley and many others at the Port Royal Landing Marina have been watching and wondering what work crews are doing on the bridge.

"We take a look here and there just to see the progress," said Rion Salley. " I haven't been able to see exactly what they are actually doing, it just looks like they're sitting up there to me."

But the perspective from down below is much different from what is actually going on, on top of the bridge, or in some cases what they're doing dangling from the bridge.

"They're cutting the back side of the rail, just cutting right through the rail," said United Contractors Supervisor, David Covin.

They're removing the rails around the five damaged beams in sections to help take more weight off the bridge.

"These lines going this way represent the beams and we drew holes in the center of the sections we're going to pull out," said Covin. "After we remove the rail, we'll cut these square sections between the beams and lift them out and once we've removed everything between the beam we'll see the new ones back in."

Contractors are hoping to have all of this done and ready to go when the first beam arrives this Friday.

"Once you get the first beam in, you really know how the others are going to go, the first one once you get it done, set in place, that lets you know how much trouble you'll have with the other beams," said Covin.

While these workers are used to building bridges and repairing them, they say fixing this bridge is going to require a lot of long and hard hours because of the damage. Damage, they say they haven't seen like this before.

"Not this much damage as far as steel beams are involved," said Covin.

Those steal beams coming are about 81 feet long and weigh more than 18-thousand pounds.

So far, contractors say things are going pretty well and they're working very long hours.

They are able to do some work while the bridge is open to traffic but say they are limited during those hours.

DOT officials say they expect it will take 10 weeks after the first beam comes in to repair the bridge, which means the repairs won't be complete until near the middle of July.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com