By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council returned serve Monday night, putting the Gray Drive Bridge ball back in the Greenville & Western Railroad’s court.
The Council passed a resolution which rejected the railroad’s suggested alternatives to the court ordered repairs for the bridge, which has been opened and closed routinely over the last decade. The railroad, which purchased the 13 mile line from Pelzer to Belton several years ago, had asked that the county take over the repairs and maintenance with some, though not total, financial support from the railroad.
A recent SCDOT inspection of the bridge, which was built more than 60 years ago, found significant problems, though an inter-departmental memo from county engineer Judy Shelato to deputy administrator Holt Hopkins reflected that DOT had never recommended closing the bridge because there appeared to be no “imminent safety threat”.
The bridge repairs were, however, classified as priority B, meaning that they reflect “a structural or safety condition that may adversely affect the safety of the motoring public and should be corrected immediately.”
The memo also states that if the repairs, which the resolution asks to be done in ninety days, are maintained, the SCDOT will maintain the bridge’s 2 tons per axle-six tons gross weight posting. “If local drivers obey the speed limit and caution signage the bridge will adequately accommodate them. Overweight and speeding vehicles will damage the bridge over time” the memo concludes.