Is the Main Street Connector and Robert Edge Parkway in NMB safe? (Update: Temporary Fix)

Benjamin Miller shows off just how big this hole in the side of the bridge is

Update 7/16/12: SCDOT has paved over the huge dip in Robert Edge Parkway to address the safety concerns.

The problem is, nobody is certain it will be a permanent fix. WMBF has more details. There was no mention of work done to the deteriorating J. Bryan Floyd Bridge we reported on over six months ago. See the original reports below for more.

Update 4/12/12: Since we originally reported the issues with Robert Edge Parkway back in January, things have only gotten worse.

Most drivers passing by don't notice the deterioration of the bridge but "the dip" is very noticeable and drivers are starting to complain. We're don't currently have a structural engineer on staff, but it seems pretty likely that the road was built improperly and if these current problems are left unrepaired that the entire road will need a serious re-working in the near future. Hopefully before someone gets hurt. WMBF has an updated report on the "the dip" here.

Update 3/5/12: It seems that the bridge isn't the only thing that is having issues.

Over the past few days a dip has appeared on Robert Edge Parkway, which has drivers concerned. WMBF News is reporting that the new problem area for the road that is only a few years old is, "near a stoplight heading west on the parkway toward Highway 90."

WMBF's initial report at 6:06 p.m. today has no mention of the pre-existing issue with the bridge that goes over the Waterway. It seems that some major issues are coming to light on this highly traveled new roadway and it's all thanks to some sporadic heavy rain over the past few months. 

SCDOT says they'll start to repair the roadway, but no date has been set for the fixes. Hop on over to WMBF News for their write-up

As for the bridge erosion, the only work that has been done to repair the damage is workers laid some sandbags and traffic cones around the area where water runs off the bridge onto the collapsing area. 

Read below and check out the photos from our initial report. 

Update 1/24/12: DOT engineers from Columbia have visited the site to evaluate the situation.

They have determined that the problem does need to be correction but they have no date set to begin repairs. City officials and SCDOT both claim the bridge is structurally sound. If they don't act quickly, they could get into spring and summer tourist traffic. WMBF has more details here.

Update 1/23/12: We decided to go back to the site and take additional photos and some video. The additional photos show there may be some concern of the roadway collapsing.

Bridges are designed to be sectional. The road on the solid ground isn't actually connected to the suspended area, this allows for expansion and contraction as well as for damages to be minimal. It, however appears that the 'solid' ground area of the bridge that meets with the floating area seems to be sinking. Causing a noticeable bump when driving over.

Dennis Townsend, who oversees SCDOT projects for Horry County, declined to comment at this time when asked directly about the state of the bridge. North Myrtle Beach Public Information Officer, Patrick Dowling sent us an additional statement saying,  "According to SCDOT, the erosion is due to the failure of expansion joints between the roadway and the bridge. This has allowed water to wash out fill material beneath the roadway. We are told that this does not affect the structural integrity of the bridge."

The two photos below show the problem areas of the roadway:

The Road


Where the damage and cracking is occurring.


Read the first report below, and checkout the added video at the bottom of the post.

First Report 1/20/12 4:37 p.m: The J. Bryan Floyd Bridge and Robert Edge Parkway opened in September of 2009 after a long construction process that was delayed due to Hurricane Katrina and went $15 million over budget

The bridge and parkway, more commonly referred to as the Main Street Connector, seems to have a major problem these days. As the photos show, the sides of the bridge, called the abutment, a retaining wall at the ends of a bridge or viaduct., seems to be crumbling. 

To be clear, we are not industrial engineers and it may just look worse than it actually is. We are waiting to hear back from Patrick Dowling, the Public Information Officer of North Myrtle Beach. 

Update 5:21 p.m: I spoke with Patrick Dowling about the bridge and he assured me that as of now there is no structural damage to the bridge. The problems, he says, seem to come from the ground settling on the western side of the bridge that allowed water to get into the normal cracks and eroded the compacted sand under the concrete. 

The bridge is under South Carolina Department of Transport (SCDOT) control, and they are aware of the situation. SCDOT is currently seeking contractors to rectify the situation. It is unclear as to when the repairs will happen or how long they will take.  Lane closures may be needed to fix the problem.

We'll keep you updated!