A Moncks Corner bridge that was destroyed by a train derailment more than five months ago is now open once again — and it comes as a relief to a popular nearby park.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) announced Thursday evening that the Cypress Gardens Road bridge over a CSX rail line was open to traffic once again. The bridge had been closed for repairs since April 28, when five train cars went off the rails and struck a concrete support. No one was injured in the collision.
Gov. Nikki Haley signed an Emergency Declaration the next day, which allowed the Federal Highway Administration to set aside repair funds. The agency originally estimated work could take up to six months.
A SCDOT spokesman said the $3.05 million “no-excuse” contract was finished ahead of schedule. CSX will repay the cost for the replacement bridge.
The announcement is welcome news for Cypress Gardens park. The road going over the bridge is the gardens’ link to the main road. Visitors have needed to take a 22-mile detour just to visit the park since May.
Park director Heather Graham said her 25-minute commute to work had increased to more than an hour while repair crews worked. She said many visitors and volunteers did not even bother with the trek.
“It just was very inconvenient for them,” she said. “So we did lose some volunteers that are hopefully going to come back once the bridge reopens.”
While the park has not yet calculated its total attendance during the bridge closure, Graham said a decline was “noticeable,” especially during special events.
Cypress Gardens is a 170-acre preserve that is owned and operated by Berkeley County.