I-77 bridge costs up by $50K

BLYTHEWOOD – In September of 2019, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) deemed it necessary to install a chain link fence across the Blythewood Road bridge over I-77 to make walking and biking across the bridge safer.

Approached by town council to install something more aesthetically pleasing than chain link, SCDOT officials were amenable if council would agree to cover any costs over the cost of the $11,641.16 it would cost SCDOT to install the chain link fence.

A bid to install approximately 552 feet of black, two-rail style ornamental pedestrian fencing would cost $95,132, with SCDOT paying $11,041.16 and Blythewood paying $85,132. The deal was sealed with a vote by council.

But that is no longer the plan.

“On Feb. 19, we were informed by SCDOT that the original awarded bid ($95,132) for the decorative fencing was cancelled due to contractor issues and that the project has been rebid,” Town Administrator Bryan Cook told council Monday evening. The new bid for decorative fencing, he said, came in at $146,000. Broken down, SCDOT would still pay only $11,641 and Blythewood would pay $134,358.84.  

Council paused at the news and voted 5-0 to table the matter until they could talk to SCDOT about other less costly options.

 “The Blythewood Road bridge is an integral focal point connecting east and west Blythewood for those residents and visitors coming off Exit 27 from Interstate I-77,” Cook said at the Sept. 23 town council meeting. “This interchange leads to our commercial, cultural, recreational, educational, residential and tourist destinations.

The project will include new sidewalks on each side of the bridge and a pedestrian barrier is also being considered.

Asked by council members where the money would come from to pay for the project, Cook said it would come from a combination of sources including hospitality tax funds and other tourism project funds.

The proposed six-foot tall fence would be constructed on top of the concrete parapets on each side of the bridge.