SCDOT Receives National Award for Bridge Project

December 17, 2007

COLUMBIA, SC – December 17, 2007 – The SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT) SCDOT was one of eight award winners nationwide in a federal recognition program for its exemplary work in replacing the US Highway 76 bridge over the scenic Chattooga River in Oconee County.

“Protecting South Carolina’s natural beauty has been a top priority for this administration, and I want to thank DOT for focusing on that goal in the completion of this project,” Governor Mark Sanford said.

SCDOT won the award as part of the Exemplary Human Environment Initiatives program for 2007 of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Exemplary Human Environment Initiatives (EHEI) program is a new program designed to support and measure FHWA’s environmental stewardship responsibilities.

The EHEI program promotes environmental stewardship by giving recognition to transportation projects and activities that are particularly effective and innovative in how they adapt and enhance the human environment. SCDOT was one of 8 award winners from 38 applicants.

“I was very pleased to nominate SCDOT for this award, based on the significant interagency and community partnering effort which resulted in the extensive use of Context Sensitive Solutions to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities,” said Bob Lee, South Carolina Division Administrator of FHWA. “These measures were also implemented to preserve the natural scenic qualities of the area as well as the recreational activities on the Chattooga River.”

A significant interstate partnering effort resulted in a new bridge over the Chattooga River that connects US 76 between South Carolina and Georgia and is within National forests.  The team used a Context Sensitive Solutions approach to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, ensure that the bridge did not interfere with the scenery, and did not disrupt recreational river use.

“It was very important that this sensitive, scenic stretch of water was not impacted by building this much needed bridge,” said Marion P. Carnell, SCDOT Commissioner representing the 3rd Congressional District. “I am pleased with the efforts made to protect the environment. It was a win-win for all involved.”

In 2003, SCDOT announced that the US 76 bridge over the Chattooga River would be replaced in 2006. Because the river forms the state line between Georgia and South Carolina, the planning and development required partnership involving two state Departments of Transportation, two National Forests, two office of FHWA, two county governments, two Corps of Engineers offices and two state Historic Preservation Officers.

The Chattooga River’s scenery, trout fishing, whitewater boating, hiking, camping and backpacking make it a popular site. As a result of the excellent partnerships and communication with the public, solutions were found to ensure the river’s outstanding features would be protected and enhanced. For example, the project included a protected pedestrian walkway across the bridge, a handicap-accessible viewing platform and the use of a vegetated slope on the Georgia side rather than a large retaining wall.

Secretary of Transportation H.B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. said the US 76 project is an example of “the way we do business at SCDOT.”

“Good things happen when successful partnerships are forged on many levels and the public is involved in the planning and implementation,” Limehouse said. “I am proud of the efforts that led to this national award and I would like to thank the Federal Highway Administration for this honor.”

Limehouse said the US 76 project is another notable project in SCDOT’s history, which includes the preservation of Sandy Island. Sandy Island is a four-mile wide, six-mile long area of wetlands and natural area in Georgetown County. SCDOT took the lead in protecting the 12,000 acres by purchasing Sandy Island in 1997.

Recently, SCDOT also received a US Forest Service’s Partnership Award for its exemplary work the US Highway 76 bridge project.

The South Carolina Secretary of Transportation is H. B. “Buck” Limehouse, Jr. The SCDOT Commission includes Chairman Bobby T. Jones, 5th Congressional District; Vice Chairman Joe Young, 1st Congressional District; Henry Taylor, 2nd Congressional District; Marion P. Carnell, 3rd Congressional District; F. Hugh Atkins, 4th Congressional District; Marvin Stevenson, 6th Congressional District; and Tee Hooper, Governor’s At-Large Appointee.