State officials hope to open a new observation deck at South Carolina’s highest point later this summer, but say they were set back by two months of delays.
The Department of Natural Resources had hoped to finish the $1.1 million post on Sassafras Mountain by June, but project lead Tom Swayngham said bad weather prevented crews from starting work until spring.
“They could not pour concrete when the weather was below 40 degrees at night, so that delayed us until spring,” he said. “Then we had a wet spring. But they are underway.”
Swayngham said crews have finished pouring concrete for the ramp and are now laying it for the tower itself. He said DNR now hopes to open the new deck, which will offer 360-degree views when complete, by early September.
The summit is closed until work is complete. Visitors can still access a smaller viewing area a bit down the ridge.
The 15-foot-tall platform will be handicapped accessible and offer a complete panorama view atop the mountainous border with North Carolina. It was funded partially by Duke Energy and private donations. However, DNR’s original $770,000 budget had to be increased after Swayngham said initial bids for the project came in much higher. The agency set aside additional funding through its Heritage Trust program, which comes from documentary stamp fees on real estate in South Carolina.
Anderson-based Lazar Construction is handling construction. Swayngham said the DNR contract requires Lazar cover any additional costs or overages beyond the $1.1 million.
The mountain is northwest of Pickens, along the border with North Carolina. It was long inaccessible until a critical land donation from Duke allowed DNR to clear the summit for views.