New Yauhannah bridge plans: Residents near bridge to lose front yards
Yauhannah S.C. — Larry Lightsey and Loretta Redick recently paid off their home in Yauhannah Lake subdivision thinking they were there to stay permanently.
That is why they were very surprised when they attended a meeting Tuesday and saw that when the Yauhannah Lake and Pee Dee River Bridges are replaced, it will wipe out most of their front yard.
The public hearing meeting was held by the South Carolina Department of Transportation to hear questions and concerns about the plans to replace the three bridges on U.S. Highway 701 that connect Georgetown and Horry counties.
It was the second public hearing that was held concerning the bridge replacement.
The first was held in 2008 but since then there was a major change made to the plans.
Originally, the southern end of the new bridges was going to be across Highway 701 from the residential area. The new plans will require the acquisition of private property along the highway.
“It will take at least half of our front yard,” Lightsey said as he looked at the maps during the meeting which was held at the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge visitor’s center.
Donnie Todd, who owns the lot that fronts Yauhannah Lake at the foot of the bridge, said he was “mad” at the change in plans.
He said because of power lines that cross his property, there will not be enough room to do anything with the lot once the bridge is built.
“That will leave me with only about 20 feet,” he said.
Henry Phillips, head of SCDOT Environmental Management, said after the meeting one of the reasons the decision was made to move the new bridge to the west side of Highway 701 is because “the quality of wetlands is more valuable” on the Wildlife Refuge property than in the residential area.
He noted there are architectural sites that were discovered during the Wildlife Center construction that need to be preserved.
Mark Lazarus, chairman of Horry County Council, said he does a lot of hunting and uses the bridges quite often.
“I know how dangerous it is,” he said. “A tragedy is not a question of if, it is a question of when, if something is not done.”
The DOT has determined these three bridges are “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete,” information from the agency states.
While Lightsey and Todd agree the bridges need to be replaced, they say they will fight to get the original plans reinstated before any construction takes place.
“I intend to fight it,” Todd said.
Phillips said the state will work with impacted property owners and, in some cases, will purchase their property at fair market value.
They still have time
The residents who will be impacted if the current plans are carried out have time to make their case.
William (Tyke) Redfearn, SCDOT assistant program director said the current timeline calls for the execution of construction contracts for the $40 million project will not take place before the fall of 2014.
The new bridges will be two-laned like the existing bridges because there is not enough funding to make them four-laned.
The Highway 701 realignment will begin at the intersection with Trinity Road -- next Terry's Fish House -- and end at Lucas Bay Road in Horry County.
There is no time frame for the completion of the construction of the 4300 feet of bridge.
Redfearn said the current bridges will remain open during the construction and will be demolished once the new bridges are open.
By Scott Harper
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