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Ways to navigate traffic as Catawba Bridge repair project approaching in two days

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - York County is just two days out from a major bridge construction that’s going to slow traffic on I-77.

More than 121,000 people drive across the Catawba River Bridge in York County every single day. Starting Thursday night, it will close and it will be closing for almost three weeks. South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) says this project will cause major traffic and delays.

The I-77 bridge above the Catawba River in York County will shrink down to four lanes shared by north and southbound cars. Some exits going toward Charlotte will be closed for the next three weeks as well. The traffic and the closures means people have to start preparing some second and third routes.

This project is something you need to start preparing for now. Officials at the say people are going to have to start planning second and third routes now to prepare for Thursday. That is because I-77 is not the only road affected.

City roads like Dave Lyle Boulevard, Celanese and Riverview Parkway could be packed. The Kingsley, Riverview and Baxter neighborhoods will feel the brunt of it. Several exits leading in the Rock Hill area will be closed as well. Most of them are going toward Charlotte.

  • Southbound I-77 on-ramp from Sutton Road
  • Northbound I-77 on-ramp from Cherry Road
  • Both Northbound I-77 on-ramps from Celanese Road
  • Northbound I-77 on-ramp from the Collector/Distributor along Exit 82

SCDOT will monitor all of the traffic in real time. That also means controlling traffic lights to keep traffic moving on those local roads. SCDOT’s secretary of engineering says that will help people keep moving to hopeful lessen the traffic on I-77.

“I think with any construction project, you have to give a little bit of extra time,” says one driver. “I think that just goes into the frustrations people have.”

This project will bring traffic and headaches. There is no way around that fact. People living near the I-77 Catawba Bridge construction have just a few words to describe it.

”Sounds like a nightmare,” says one driver.

Drivers are not the only ones being kept up at night thinking about the traffic woes.

“There are gonna be significant traffic impacts,” says Leland Colvin. “There is going to be congestion there’s no question whatsoever.”

He is SCDOT’s Secretary of Engineering. While drivers are dreading the massive traffic jams on I-77, people living on the side roads worry about people being pushed onto the only roads leading to their homes.

”160 is going to be overburdened,” says Scott Repass, who lives in Baxter.

”I have to wait in traffic that won’t normally be there,” says one driver who lives near Winthrop.

SCDOT and York County officials say people need to get two or three different routes. If people live north of the construction, like in Tega Cay and Fort Mill, more of the traffic they encounter will be from people being pushed to the alternate routes. Those suggested are:

The SCDOT will post detour signs to Highway 21 from Sutton Road in Fort Mill and Celanese Road to Cherry Road (Hwy 21)

  • Hands Mill Hwy./Hwy 274 to Highway 49, York
  • Highway 49 across Buster Boyd Bridge in Lake Wylie
  • Highway 5 to Highway 521 North in Lancaster County
  • Highway 160 (Fort Mill) to Highway 521 in Indian Land
These are the alternate routes to the I-77 Catawba River Bridge project.
These are the alternate routes to the I-77 Catawba River Bridge project.(Source: (York County))

However, do not just rely on preparing other routes. People might not have a full wall of traffic monitoring screens like SCDOT, but South Carolina’s 511 website lets people see what SCDOT sees. There are about 17 cameras on South Carolina’s section of I-77 from the stateline in the areas affected. Click on the camera at mile marker 82.4 for the best view of the Catawba River Bridge.

”That website is one of the best sources of information and we want you to use that,” says Colvin.

511 still has you covered on the roads without cameras. The website and app will warn you about congested routes.

”All of us we sort of driver where we’re going in our head first before we go anywhere so it would be cool to actually see where the traffic is because in our head we never plan out traffic,” says the Winthrop driver.

This project is supposed to finish May 24th. SCDOT will fine the construction company 10,000 dollars an hour for unfinished work. Something interesting mentioned in the press conference today--all of the project workers are vaccinated so COVID-19 would not slow this project down.

SCDOT will close the southbound lanes and exits on Thursday at 9pm. That means people will not have to deal with delays until the next morning but be prepared for the extra morning rush traffic.

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