The U.S. 701 bridge over the Pee Dee River will remained closed for at least part of the day today as repairs continue following a fatal crash Monday morning that is still under investigation.
S.C. Department of Transportation crews spent the day Tuesday repairing about 70 feet of concrete rail torn from the bridge, said Shannon Welch, the resident maintenance engineer for the S.C. DOT.
Welch said the extent of the damage, and rain on Tuesday slowed the work slightly. The bridge will be open this afternoon , Welch said, but he couldn't specify a time.
"We are confident it won't be closed on Thursday," he said.
Officials immediately closed the bridge after a Freightliner tractor-trailer veered off the bridge, went through the concrete railing and ended up in the swampy area below on Monday morning.
The truck driver, Jack Manigualt, Jr., 38, of Georgetown was pronounced dead at the scene.
A preliminary autopsy did not show any major trauma as a result of the crash, though it likely contributed to his death, said Horry County Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler. The coroner's office is waiting for additional information from the S.C. Highway Patrol and some additional tests before determining a cause of death, he said.
The S.C. Highway Patrol's Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team is reconstructing the accident as the investigation continues, said Lance Cpl. Sonny Collins with the S.C. Highway Patrol.
Traffic will continue to be diverted through Hemingway until the bridge is fixed.
Drivers coming from Horry County will be directed to Pee Dee Highway to U.S. 378 to S.C. 41/S.C. 51 to S.C. 261 back to U.S. 701. Traffic coming from Georgetown County is being diverted along a similar route.
The bridge, which was built in 1953, was ranked 174th in AAA Carolinas 2010 annual bridge rating study that identifies substandard bridges.
AAA Carolinas has been rating the state's substandard bridges for 13 years, but a 2011 study has not been released yet.
In the 2010 rating, the group estimated that bridge maintenance, repair and replacement needs for state-owned bridges was about $199.5 million. In that report, 1,964 of the state's estimated 9,188 bridges were given a substandard rating.
To replace or repair all the substandard bridges in the state, AAA Carolinas estimated that the state's DOT would spend about $2 billion, which increased from $850 million in 2003.
The worst bridge in the state, according to the study, was on Interstate 26 in Richland County located 3 miles northwest of Columbia. The first bridge in Horry County to make the list was No. 17 on state road 616 over the Intracoastal Waterway and located 10.5 miles south of Conway.