The I-85 bridge over Laurel Creek in Greenville, SC, has gotten much attention. This bridge is often cited as an instance of much-needed highway repairs in the state. Fortunately, the state is on it with plans to fix the nearby Laurens Road and Greenville County roads. They’re getting some better funding. Soon it will hopefully no longer be the scariest bridge in South Carolina.
Nonetheless, this road is cited in numerous places as the most dangerous in the Tar Heel State. But why?
Laurel Creek Bridge and Its Designation
Greenville News links to what appears to be a third-party data provider. This data provider cites a National Bridge Inventory report listing Laurel Creek Bridge in Greenville, SC, as being in “fair” condition. The last inspection was done in August 2022. The overall structural evaluation is listed as 5. “5: Somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is.”
According to the NIB report, some parts of the bridge are adequate. A few are even above average, and one got a ZERO rating which makes sense for the scariest bridge in South Carolina. The report notes some potential hazards related to the waterways, presumably referring to Laurel Creek. Perhaps the creek bed has rehydrated in recent years? (The most current satellite photos appear to show Laurel Creek as a dirt path!)
However, the eye-opener for the bridge inspection report is the “Approach Guardrail” which got a zero. “0: Inspected feature does not meet currently acceptable standards or a safety feature is required and none is provided.”
Other Factors Determining the Scariest Bridge in South Carolina
There are many structurally deficient bridges near Laurel Creek. Zooming out on Greenville News’ Bridge Inspection Map service, within a few square miles of Laurel Creek, there are at least 14 bridges with a bright red icon indicating they need to be fixed or modified. About six are marked as meeting the bare minimum safety requirements, and the rest are at or above them.
All these dodgy bridges mean Laurel Creek is in the bullseye of a neighborhood of deteriorating bridges. As such, the statistics likely reflect this spot on a map as a concentration of bridges needing repair. Hence the likely origin of the designation. There are a good number of needy bridges in six specific counties in South Carolina.
A South Carolina traffic fatalities database shows dozens of deaths on nearby roadways—most of the deaths are pedestrian, automobile, and motorcycle—over the last 35 years.
Greenville is the county seat of Greenville County, South Carolina. The county is home to several local or South Carolina-designated natural preserves; there are at least a dozen of the latter. The Tall Pines area is vital to the region’s waterways. It is involved in fish hatchery for the South Saluda River. Another river in the area is the Reedy River, which has a tributary that forms Laurel Creek.
Tall Pines is also a hunting ground with white-tailed deer, turkeys, and black bears.
Slow Down and Go Easy Over It
Laurel Creek Bridge, a once sketchy overpass, is getting some attention, so there will be no more white-knuckling it over a ravine. Its neighboring bridges will hopefully get the same attention soon as well.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.