Passage over the Teal’s Mill pond is expected to happen today, and residents say it can’t come soon enough.
For more than a year, adults in the Teal’s Mill community have been waiting for the Teal’s Mill bridge to reopen, like children wait for Santa.
When the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) closed the bridge in early November 2010, residents were first told the road closing would be “indefinite,” said Arthur Bays, Teal’s Mill resident and volunteer fireman. Then, said Bays, it was reported that if a new bridge were to be constructed, it could not be completed until 2013.
“We weren’t gonna have any of that,” said Bays. Determined not to let passage over the Teal’s Mill pond become a thing of the past, he helped organize community efforts aimed at getting the results they wanted, and quickly. Bays, and other residents who raised opposition to increased fire insurance ratings on their homes, made sure their voices were heard.
Bays arranged for more than 200 residents of the Teal’s Mill community to meet with five of the state’s legislators and nine officials representing SCDOT earlier this year. By then, he and other members of the community had already gathered 1,500 names in opposition to closing the bridge.
The result is the installment of a bailey bridge, built in the United Kingdom and assembled in the United States, in just more than a year. According to Bays, the bridge was shipped in three sections. Two of the sections were shipped to a port in Baltimore and the other to New Jersey before being assembled.
This the first time the state has used this type of “temporary” bridge for county roads, said John McCarter, project manager for SCDOT. Once a permanent bridge is built, the bailey bridge will be moved to serve as temporary passage for other South Carolina residents waiting to have a bridge replaced.
Allen Davis, Bays and many other local residents have been visiting the small stretch of road across the pond, watching for signs of progress. Davis said he has been traveling the extra five to six miles around the pond each day to feed his horses this past year. “I will be happy when it opens,” said Davis.
Bays said he doesn’t want credit for his efforts, he just wants to “get the fire trucks over it.”
Because the bridge is temporary, and there is a 25 ton weight limit, the detour will remain open for any vehicle with more than eight wheels. The only thing keeping the bridge from opening at this point, said Bays earlier this week, are the guard rails.
According to Bays, the rails are mandatory and their installation is federally funded because the Teal’s Mill Road is part of a designated bike trail that runs from Michigan to Florida.”