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Challenges boost pricetag of new Savannah River bridge

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 12:18 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 12:48 AM
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A new bridge over Thurmond Lake along U.S. Hwy. 378 will cost $6 million more than planned and take longer to complete, due in part to problems with support columns anchored in water as much as 80 feet deep.

“As is often the case in a project of this magnitude, there have been issues arise during construction,” said Cissy McNure, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, in an e-mailed response to questions.

The bridge will cross the Savannah River and link Lincolnton, Ga., with McCormick, S.C. Construction began in April 2010. The new scheduled completion date of June is 11 months later than planned.

The problems are related to possible movement in the bridge supports, known as “bents,” and engineers are working diligently to devise a solution.

“Bridge construction projects, by their very nature, are expensive undertakings,” she said. “And the substructure work on a bridge – a major portion of which occurs underwater – is perhaps the most expensive element of the entire project.”

The problems, McNure added, are due to factors that include the effects of temperature changes on cement placed below the lake’s surface.

“This isn’t a question of anyone making a mistake,” McNure said. “Because substructure work largely takes place underwater, it is difficult, if not impossible, to know definitively what circumstances might be encountered once that work begins. That is what occurred here.”

Engineers believe the deep, cold water – and differences in temperature – affected the curing of the concrete and caused stresses in the seal it was designed to create.

Currently, about 50 percent of the project’s substructure has been completed.

In addition to issues with the submerged concrete, a second issue involves very soft soils discovered beneath the bridge supports.

“We currently are working with the contractor and the Federal Highway Administration to determine the best solutions,” McNure said.

The newest budget for the project is $22.4 million – about $6 million more than the original contract, she said.

The contractor is Ala­bama-based Scott Bridge Co., which also managed the $192 million construction of the Interstate 20/Bobby Jones Expressway juncture in Augusta.

Once completed, the new concrete bridge will be 1,680 feet long and 44 feet wide to accommodate two travel lanes and two emergency lanes. At its highest point, it will stand 36 yards above the lake at full pool.

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Time1 02/06/13 - 02:33 pm
Next should be the I-20

Next should be the I-20 Savannah River bridge. Just wondering such a major bridge should be maintained better than you see it now.

I'm Back Again
I'm Back Again 02/06/13 - 04:55 pm
There could never be a new

There could never be a new bridge built between Richmond County and Aiken County on I-20. See heres the problem: Aiken County would vote to replace the bridge and be ready in a few days. Richmond County however would have to pay a company at least 9 million dollars to do a feasability study to determine if the bridge needs to be replaced.

Then, they would hire an outside company for 5 million dollars to see if replacing the I-20 bridge could be combined with the Laney Walker revitalization program, so that more dead trees could be planted, and more unused sidewalks could be installed.

Then, they would put the job out for bid, only to spend 12 million dollars in court fees because they accepted an invalid offer because the bridge company forgot to cross a t on page 367 of the bid, so the company sues them.

Then they put it out for bid again, and they accept the bid of the highest amount, only to find out that they couldve gotten it done for 27 million dollars cheaper. So Richmond County sues that company for making a bid too high, and making them accept it. That lawsuit is settled out of court for a measly 3 million dollars.

Then Richmond County commissioners cant agree on a name for the new bridge and they hire a firm for 8 million dollars to find out if it should be named after a black person or a white person.

Then they wait for a study to determine if they can build a 22 million dollar walk way that would attach the new I-20 bridge to the TEE center, and charge pedestrians 3 dollars each to walk across it one way. Oh yeah, That study costs 7 million dollars.

Then they realize that most of the commissioners that started the whole bridge process are no longer on the commission so they hire a company to tell them if they can use the old ideas, or if they have to come up with new ideas. That company does the work pro bono, as long as they rehire them to do the study on what should be done to the blighted Regency Mall. The mall study will cost 18 million dollars if they use their ideas, and 28 million dollars if they dont.

Then they finally decide to vote on the new I-20 bridge and all 10 commissioners are ready to vote. The 4 white commissioners, and 1 asian commisioner vote "yes". After the forth black commissioner votes "no", almost causing a tie, Marion Williams realizes that the boy wonder Mayor will have a say in this, and he doesnt like that, so he gently gets up out of his seat to take a restroom break. But just before the door closes, you can hear him holler out "I abstain". chuckle chuckle chuckle

Then the mayor calls the Aiken County commissioners to tell them the status, and he finds out that they decided to cancel the bridge idea 9 years earlier, and instead they built Riverview Park, the Greeneway, all the beautiful homes along the river, a new courthouse, and to top it off, they just signed the papers to build the GreenJackets new stadium in their own back yard. And to boy wonders amazement, they learned that Aiken County and North Augusta were actually going to make money off of those investments. So Richmond County hires a company to do a study on how to earn a profit on your investment. That study comes at a pricetag of 63 million dollars, because its important. So they hire another company to study that companies study to see if they should spend 63 million dollars on that study. This study is done for 13 million dollars.

What it must be like to live in a town where the people that vote on things do it because it betters the whole entire community, and not just one race, either way.

These knuckleheads have spent a gazillion dollars on studies and non sense, and have nothing to show for it except an empty 50 million dollar meeting center that was built knowing it would never make a nickels profit.

Move away peeps, move away! It only gets worse. I do feel bad for the commissioners that are actually there to try and make a diference. The problem is you are outnumbered and outgunned. You may as well forfeit the game now. You will lose.

soapy_725 02/06/13 - 05:26 pm
Per CC phone Q&A: There are Federal Hwy list, State Hwy list,

County Road list, Housing development street list. Highway maintenance is a very complicated, very expensive and very prone to fraud endeavor. Average citizens are not capable of understanding all of these lists of priorities or the inability to overlap these lists. The safety of a bridge or highway must be evaluated by a trained DOT civil engineer. Preferably someone with at least a D- average in college (per DOT recruiting pamphlet). Appearances can be deceiving. The government will not allow you to travel on an unsafe structure. LOL LOL

abeecee 02/06/13 - 07:53 pm
I-20 Savannah River coming soon

Time1-DOT is very near start on the I-20 GA/SC bridge.

itsanotherday1 02/06/13 - 09:14 pm
Interesting that they run

Interesting that they run into unforeseen issues when a bridge has already been built once across this part of the lake.

oldredneckman96 02/06/13 - 11:01 pm
Clarkes Hill Lake

That Clarkes Hill lake was built in the fiftys for 9 million as shown (great pictures) in the same paper that shows how bad things are today. Who bid this project that lets Scott Bridge Co. just turn around and get 6 million more after the bid work is in progress. itsantotherday1 has a good point. PS. loved Strom Thurmond, but it is still Clarkes Hill! with an "e"

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