New bridge over the Catawba River nearly complete

news@fortmilltimes.comFebruary 24, 2013 

— Work on the Hwy. 21 bridge replacement over the Catawba River that connects Fort Mill to Rock Hill should be completed in April, officials said.

All that’s left to complete on the project is “final roadway surfacing, utility relocations and pavement striping,” said Eric Burgess, of the firm KCI and the engineer of record.

Burgess and his firm were recently singled out by the American Council of Engineering Companies of South Carolina, which honored the design and construction efforts for the bridge. KCI, which acquired Triplett-King & Associates, accepted an engineering excellence award for the 1,000-foot-long concrete beam bridge.

“Replacing the [Hwy.] 21 bridge posed unique technical challenges that allowed us to capitalize on cost saving opportunities,” Burgess said.

“Through strong partnering relationships, we successfully implemented a new construction methodology, incorporated aesthetic considerations, saved taxpayer dollars, and improved traffic capacity to benefit the entire region.”

The bridge project used an innovative girder lifting frame developed to eliminate the need for barge-mounted cranes in the shallow waterway. Engineers said it was the first time this construction methodology was used in the Southeast, and the first time nationally on a bridge of this size.

More accolades could be on the way for KCI.

“We have won this similar award before on other projects,” Burgess said, “however we learned that this one finished as the top transportation project this year and is eligible for national consideration.”

The new methods used, along with $1.5 million cost savings associated with moving the bridge to a new upstream alignment, extensive public involvement, and aesthetic treatments, make the Hwy. 21 bridge a hallmark project in the state and throughout the region, engineers said.

Drivers crossing the new bridge, which replaces a narrow, poorly-lit gateway into town, have noticed decorative lamps along the expanse. Burgess said that feature was added in response to requests from “local municipalities” working with the firm.

Burgess and other officials said a ceremony will be held to dedicate the bridge, but no plans have been made.

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