Rimer Pond Road Back in Business

BLYTHEWOOD (Dec. 24, 2015) – Rimer Pond Road was reopened Dec. 11 for the second time in two years. Closed for half of 2013 while its notoriously dangerous curve underwent straightening and widening, the road was closed again on Oct. 5 after a large section of the newly replaced curve was washed out by torrential flooding that devastated much of Richland County.

The washout happened when the nearby Rimer Pond dam breached, flooding the roadway with more water than could be accommodated by the 4-foot diameter culvert that had been installed under the roadway during the straightening process a year earlier.

S.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) Chief Engineer for Operations Andy Lephart said that of the 541 closings that occurred on Oct. 5, 133 of them were in Richland County, the hardest hit county in the state.

“We prioritized the repairs based on whether the road was an interstate, a primary or a secondary road,” Lephart said. “But after getting the interstates open, we looked at other things such as connectivity, affected services, schools, things like that which moved Rimer Pond Road up the list.”

The closing of Rimer Pond Road diverted cut-through traffic from Lake Carolina and Hardscrabble Road to Langford Road and into downtown Blythewood, virtually shutting down traffic flow in the town during school drop-off and pick-up hours and during rush hours.

“With the road open again, I have had reports that our traffic congestion here in downtown Blythewood has decreased by a third,” Blythewood Mayor J. Michael Ross told The Voice. “Thank the Lord it’s open! As soon as we heard the good news from SCDOT that it was going to reopen, we immediately got word out to the Blythewood schools to send those buses down Rimer Pond Road again. We are very appreciative of SCDOT getting it back open so soon.”

While the road has been repaired, the breached dam that caused the flooding has not been repaired.

“We only repair the road,” Lephart told The Voice. “It’s the responsibility of the dam’s owner to repair the dam. Reconstruction of the dam, Lephart said, must be overseen and certified by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). It can’t be rebuilt without DHEC’s certification process.”

Lephart said it was determined that the road could safely be repaired without regard for the dam’s condition. To that end, Lephart’s crew replaced the 48-inch culvert under the curve with a 54-inch culvert.

“Based on hydrology and what’s there now, we knew we could go in there and, without a final determination of what the dam owner will do, still handle the water coming through there. The 54-inch culvert will take care of it,” Lephart said. “Our design will handle a 25-year flood.”

Lephart said that with the opening of Rimer Pond Road, the County has 53 roads statewide still closed.

“Twenty-six of those are associated with dams that we can’t do anything about. We just have to wait for the owners of those dams to decide what they’re going to do,” Lephart said.


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