Savannah Marine, Marinex to pay $1M for damage to S.C. bridge

The following is the text of a press release issued by the South Carolina Department of Transportation:
(COLUMBIA, S.C,) — Transportation Secretary H.B. “Buck†Limehouse Jr. has announced that the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has resolved its claim against Savannah Marine Service, Inc. and Marinex Construction Co. for the costs of repairing the J.E. McTeer Bridge on US 21 in downtown Beaufort.
The fixed span was damaged on April 26, 2007 when a Marinex crane being towed by a Savannah Marine Services tugboat hit the structure. SCDOT filed a claim of $1.4 million to recover the repair costs. All parties involved agreed to a settlement of $1,030,000.

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 SCDOT’s rapid response to this emergency situation was simply a demonstration of the agency’s commitment to the public. “It’s our job to provide a safe highway system for the people of South Carolina, and it’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 didn’t take that responsibility lightly,†he added. Limehouse also noted that aggressively pursuing the costs of the repairs is also part of the agency’s responsibility to the taxpayers.

By Professional Mariner Staff