With yesterday’s news that the westbound lanes of the Interstate 526 James B. Edwards Bridge will be closed until June 11, officials are urging employers and drivers to change their commute times if possible.
Temporary repairs to an internal cable that snapped will occur over the next four weeks. The closure of the westbound lanes on the bridge causes around 35,000 cars a day to funnel onto exterior roads, including U.S. Highway 17 South to access Interstate 26 or S.C. Highway 41 to access Interstate 526.
The eastbound lanes remain open on the bridge over the Wando River. The DOT is considering making those lanes run two-ways, but that has not yet been determined.
Local leaders said employers should allow employees in the area to work remotely or with flexible office hours if they are able to do so. They also asked for drivers to carpool when possible and to exercise patience when driving in the region, particularly in Mount Pleasant. SCDOT posted two regional detour maps (pdf.) to help businesses and commuters navigate the closure.
Mount Pleasant, the S.C. Department of Transportation and state and local police departments outlined steps taken to mitigate traffic congestion in the area:
- Additional law enforcement has been called in and are stationed along main roads to keep traffic flowing and assist stranded motorists.
- Some major traffic signal schedules are being overridden to remain green during rush hour.
- Tow trucks are stationed along busy areas in case of an accident or a car stalling out.
- Employers are being asked to institute modified work schedules or allow employees to work from home as possible to keep more people off the road.
- Portable cameras have been placed at key signals along S.C. Highway 41, U.S. Highway 17, Clements Ferry Road and the Ravenel Bridge to modify traffic and make real-time adjustments.
“While this is a lengthy period of time, we recognize the need to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors,” Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie said in a statement. “We understand the serious burden that has been placed on everyone by this bridge infrastructure failure; but together, we will work to relieve some of the stress imposed on our community.”
Haynie also encouraged Lowountry residents to continue supporting Mount Pleasant businesses, shops and restaurants during the bridge closure.