West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) The bridge over I-26 at Leaphart Road was reopened to traffic Friday afternoon. The bridge had been closed since the early spring of last year after closing to be replaced. Cars were sitting at the barricades waiting to cross as the crews removed the barricades.
The southernmost portion of Chris Drive also was reopened as well. This is the portion between US 1 and Leaphart Road. Chris Drive on the other side of Leaphart Road going toward Sunset Boulevard remained closed. All of Harbor Drive still is closed too. Both of these roads will be raised to the new level of Leaphart before they can be completed and opened. Morningside Drive at Leaphart Road is also closed for construction.
Even though some neighbors complained about the noise and the lights at night, SCDOT crews and the contractor worked a grueling schedule to finish the Leaphart Road bridge quickly. Construction was originally set to be completed in November of 2018.
The bridge had to be closed because it was hit by a tractor-trailer again last year. The bridge’s lowest point was one of the shortest around the Columbia interstates. It had been hit by trucks' loads a number of times, but the last one made it unsafe to keep open any longer.
The bridge’s closing was especially troublesome for commuters who traveled in the area. The bridge at Rainbow Drive is already being replaced also, and the Leaphart Road closing forced drivers out onto Augusta Road or Sunset Boulevard who used to be able to cut through some of these other routes. There was also concern about delays in emergency vehicle traffic as a result of the closing.