SCDOT reacted quickly to the emergency situation when the incident occurred. SCDOT engineers in Columbia and the Lowcounty field offices rapidly determined the extent of the damage, which required replacement of all five of the large beams in the bridge deck. An emergency contract was issued in short order that allowed the work to begin. Two factors spurred the quick action. The McTeer Bridge is a vital transportation link between the mainland and the sea islands on a daily basis, but also serves as a vital connection in hurricane evacuation, and the 2007 hurricane season was approaching. The contract called for the repairs to be completed by July 31, 2007.
Despite the extensive damage, SCDOT engineers determined that one lane of the bridge could be opened to traffic during peak periods while repairs were being made. Repair work was accelerated as much as possible. SCDOT traffic engineers worked with local law enforcement officials to reduce congestion. The result was that SCDOT was able to reopen the bridge on June 19, which was five weeks ahead of schedule. The early opening also prevented traffic disruptions during the July 4th holiday, followed by the Water Festival, both of which are major events in the Beaufort area.
Secretary Limehouse said SCDOTâ€™s rapid response to this emergency situation was simply a demonstration of the agencyâ€™s commitment to the public. â€œItâ€™s our job to provide a safe highway system for the people of South Carolina, and itâ€™s doubly important for us to respond as quickly as possible when bridges or highways are damaged and traffic is disrupted. When lives depended on SCDOT to get this bridge back in service, we didnâ€™t take that responsibility lightly,â€ he added. Limehouse also noted that aggressively pursuing the costs of the repairs is also part of the agencyâ€™s responsibility to the taxpayers.