Operator says boats come before cars on Socastee Swing Bridge

SOCASTEE, SC (WBTW)-      For many of us, getting caught at the Socastee swing bridge is an inconvenience.

ICA Project Manager John Bergman says they’re required under federal law to close the bridge every time a boater requests an opening.

“We typically have to open it right away, there’s a point on the horizon that we select and we start the process,” said Bergman.

Chris Richardson says he typically leaves his house at 7:00 AM to get his son to school by 7:35. Most days he makes it with plenty of time, but Thursday he was late.

“The school house is right on the other side of this bridge,” said Richardson. “”If the bridge hadn’t been turned, I could’ve gotten my son to school on time.”

Bergman says he understands his frustration, but there is an alternative route on Highway 544.

According to Bergman, the most busy time of year for boaters crossing under the Socastee swing bridge is April, May, October and November.

“That’s when people are transporting boats back and forth to Florida,” he explained.

Last April, they opened the bridge 500 times and Bergman says multiple boats can extend the wait time.

Richardson doesn’t understand why boats take priority over car traffic.

“Boats should be leisure,” stated Richardson.

A DOT spokesperson told News13 that things are the same as they’ve always been with the bridge and the swing bridge has never operated on a set schedule. We also reached out to the coast guard to find out if that’s something it would ever consider, but did not hear back.

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