Bridges play a crucial role in the connective tissue that is America’s road system. These structures carry cars, trucks, and people to destinations previously unreachable throughout the country. As pivotal and heavily used structures, bridges require a certain amount of maintenance to work well. In many places, state and national organizations well-maintain these bridges, yet in others, like these six South Carolina counties, government officials have yet to repair them at their worst.
From crumbling bricks to broken concrete, unsafe bridges can hinder traffic, break cars, and put drivers and their loads in danger. Read on to learn about South Carolina’s bridges and the counties with some of the worst bridge maintenance in the state.
The Worst Bridges in South Carolina
South Carolina’s infrastructure support over 9,400 bridges statewide, with 477 (5.1%) needing structural repair as of 2022, per the US Department of Transportation (DOT). This number represents a decrease since 2018, when nearly twice as many bridges — 795 total — were structurally deficient.
South Carolina’s done good work repairing many of these vital structures, but there’s still much to fix. Besides 17 bridges included in the Interstate Highway System, the South Carolina government bears responsibility for 87.6% of structurally unsound crossings. These bridges connect intrastate travel to major airports, railways, ports, and other key trade destinations. Another 1,593 bridges in South Carolina post load limits, restricting the capacity of trucks and vehicles allowed to cross.
The state has identified necessary repairs on some 2,119 bridges, including urgent priorities and structures that will soon become unsafe. The projected cost of these repairs rests in the realm of $2.5 billion.
1. Greenville County
Greenville County, South Carolina, has some of the state’s most trafficked and structurally unstable bridges. The region carries 633 bridges total, with approximately 28.1% (45 bridges) needing repair or corrective maintenance, per the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). These structures cover 44,401 square meters of unsafe crossings, requiring drivers to use caution when traversing.
Some of the worst maintained bridges in Greenville County include:
- The I-85 bridge over Trib Laurel Creek supports over 108,000 cars daily, initially built in 1960.
- The Route US 29 crossing over Mountain Creek represents a main urban traffic way, supporting over 41,000 cars daily.
- The Route US 29 over Enoree River is another such major roadway responsible for another 41,000 vehicles’ safe passage.
2. Spartanburg County
In Spartanburg County, 40 bridges of the region’s 641 USDOT ranked structurally poor, while another 231 qualify as fair condition. Approximately 22.46% of these bridges require repairs, representing a lengthy 24,717 square meters of poor-quality bridge that drivers must cross.
Spartanburg County, SC’s worst maintained bridges include:
- The I-26 crossing of Fairforest Creek requires officials’ attention. Last evaluated in February 2020, the bridge needs serious repairs to allow its 58,700 daily cars to cross safely.
- Responsible for nearly 22,000 travelers daily, the I-26 westbound and eastbound over Route SC 85 require immediate attention from South Carolina’s state highway agency.
- The US 221 Bridge over the NS RR in Spartanburg was built in 1920 and last reconstructed in 1935. Per its 2020 inspection, the FHA recommends urgent prioritization of repairs.
3. York County
Around 282 bridges call York County their home, with 29 (10.3%) of these structures lacking critical functionality per the USDOT. Another 332 — nearly half — of York County’s bridges rank in “fair” condition, meaning they’ll need significant renovations in the coming years.
The I-77 bridges in York County, which see most of the region’s daily traffic, all rank in good or fair condition. But less-frequented roadways have been neglected by infrastructure officials, requiring drivers to move with caution when using these bridges.
Some of the most unsafe bridges in York County are:
- The S-46-50 bridge crossing Manchester Creek, about 4.4 miles northeast of Rock Hill, sees 11,300 travelers daily.
- The S-46-195 path over Big Dutchman Creek supports 10,600 cars on average daily, with 3% of this amount consisting of heavy trucks.
- The SC 72 bridge that crosses Stony Fork Creek, south of Rock Hill, was last repaired in 1949. With 9,900 daily crossings as of 2021, it requires serious repairs.
4. Newberry County
Newberry is a relatively small county in central South Carolina, with a population of about 37,700 people. It contains 215 bridges total, of which the USDOT ranks 22 (10.2%) as poor condition and another 126 — over half — in only fair condition. Thirty-eight bridges qualify as structurally deficient, needing urgent repairs by the South Carolina state highway agency.
Of Newberry County’s worst bridges, a few include:
- I-26 over Gliders Creek is a major highway with a basically intolerable structural evaluation, despite it carrying 38,500 daily drivers.
- The Route SC 34 crossing Welch Branch sees 5,400 cars each day. It was last reconstructed in 1954 and is considered unsafe.
- Route US 76 over the Southern RR, about 8.6 miles southeast of Newberry, meets only the minimum tolerable structure limits and needs high-priority deck repairs.
5. Chester County
Chester County lies in the north-central region of South Carolina, with an area of 586 square miles. Of the 188 bridges in Chester County, the USDOT rates 22, or 11.7% of the total, as in poor condition. About 31 of the total bridges are ranked as structural deficient per the NHA, with many of these maintenance needs resting with the state’s highway officials.
Some of Chester County’s worst bridges are:
- On a highway east of Chester, the Route SC 9 bridge over Grassy Run Creek sees about 9,700 cars daily. While officials improved its deck geometry in 2001 and rates to meet superior criteria, its structural integrity is intolerable.
- Where Route US 21 crosses the SCL Railroad near the York County line, this 1950s-built bridge supports 5,700 cars daily with an unstable structure.
- The SC 72 bridge across South Fork Creek is nearly 100 years old, first built in 1929 with a structure needing immediate repairs, per the NHA.
6. Lancaster County
Lancaster County has less than 200 bridges — 179 to be exact – yet about 24.6% of these structures need repairs or other corrective action. The USDOT rates 20, or 11.2%, of these bridges as in poor condition, with another 32 considered structurally deficient. Due to a lack of fixes, drivers must navigate 5,692 square meters of unsafe bridges in Lancaster County.
In Lancaster County, South Carolina, some of the worst bridges include:
- The Route SC 9 bridge over Hannah’s Creek. This structure has not been repaired since it was built in 1940, yet it supports 9,000 cars daily, with 9% as truck traffic.
- The SC-29-12 over L and C Railroad carries 7,300 cars closer to their destinations daily. It requires immediate replacement of structural elements and unstable deck geometry.
- The Route SC 200 overpass of Camp Creek stands 4.1 miles north of Lancaster and was first built in 1938. When evaluated in 2021, the bridge was considered to be in intolerable condition and needed immediate attention.
Summary of 6 Counties in South Carolina With the Worst Bridges
|Number||County||% of Bridges in Poor Condition|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Reedy River Drone Company/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.