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The DOT has an agreement for engineering work on its seven moveable bridges and high-level structures, such as the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River. But the state also has the ability to sign an emergency contract for unexpected repairs, such as the one in Socastee.DOT spokeswoman Kelly Moore said the agency didn’t have an estimate yet for the total cost of the Socastee bridge work.DOT officials said several factors have made this repair challenging. Aging rivets connecting the mangled metal had to be sawed...
The DOT has an agreement for engineering work on its seven moveable bridges and high-level structures, such as the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River. But the state also has the ability to sign an emergency contract for unexpected repairs, such as the one in Socastee.
DOT spokeswoman Kelly Moore said the agency didn’t have an estimate yet for the total cost of the Socastee bridge work.
DOT officials said several factors have made this repair challenging. Aging rivets connecting the mangled metal had to be sawed off and forced back out to allow the damaged piece to be removed.
“Rivets aren’t the easiest thing to take out,” Perry said. “It’s not like a bolt where you just take the nut off.”
The DOT also has to coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard to open the bridge at key times for marine traffic. The bridge is staffed by an operator who works in a room atop the structure. As vessels approach, boaters call ahead and ask the operator to swing the bridge open. The process takes about 12 minutes and the bridge turns like a deadbolt, completely perpendicular to the road and ready for boats to pass.
At the Coast Guard’s request, the bridge opened for a barge that came through on the evening of June 16. The following day also presented a challenge to workers because of busy boat traffic. On a typical Father’s Day weekend, the Socastee bridge opens nearly 20 times each day.
But perhaps the greatest obstacle was securing the support piece necessary to complete the repair. The DOT needed a heavy piece of steel, known as a strongback, to connect to the bridge with tension rods and support the structure while workers replace the damaged piece.
This strongback came from Savannah, Georgia. It had to be cut specifically for this repair and holes were drilled into it to attach the rods. DOT even needed a special permit to transport the roughly 7,000-pound strongback to Socastee.
Because of the busy boating weekend, DOT crews planned to wait until 10 p.m. on June 17 to shut off the area to marine traffic. That’s when they expected to hook up the strongback and finish replacing the damaged section of the bridge.
They hoped to complete most of the critical work overnight and into the following morning, though they said there’s always the potential for an unforeseen delay. The plan is to have the bridge open to traffic by June 20.
Apart from its transportation function, the swing bridge is a key piece of Socastee’s history.
Built in 1935 during the country’s bridge boom, its construction signified the completion of the Intracoastal Waterway.
The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002 as part of a historic district that included two houses, a store and a pecan grove, according to the S.C. Department of Archives and History. The Cooper House, a popular venue for weddings and birthday parties, dates back to 1908 while the Cooper Store (1905) and the Sarvis House (1881) go back further.
The community even holds a festival at the bridge each April to celebrate Socastee’s heritage. The festival stretches three-quarters of a mile and typically draws thousands.
“Bridge day is a crazy day,” said Ryan Smith, a Conway High science teacher who works summers at Island Adventure Watersports, a jet ski rental business beside the bridge. “They shut down for the day. They can’t run anything on bridge day because they close the road.”
Since the crash, Smith said the business has received calls from customers asking whether it’s open. He’s told them the road on the western side of the bridge is still accessible to local traffic even while the bridge is closed for repairs.
“The majority of people, like locals, actually know what happened,” he said. “A lot of our out-of-town clientele have asked why it’s closed.”
He said the bridge itself is normally a draw anyway.
“We get a ton of walk-up people that come to take pictures of the bridge and they ask about it,” he said.
Dennis Courtney stopped by to watch the construction on June 16. He had come to River City Café next door for lunch and wanted to see how the work was progressing.
Courtney moved to Horry County from Texas about three years ago and he occasionally stops by the bridge to watch the black water of the ICW. The color is a change from the brown rivers he’s accustomed to. In recent days, he’s read comments on Facebook from some folks questioning the need for old blue swing bridge, but he’s also seen locals highlight its importance.
“There’s a lot of other people that have lived here all their lives,” he said. “And they said you people don’t realize how much history there is with the bridge, how it’s a part of the community.”
SOCASTEE, S.C. (WBTW) — It could be months before authorities know more about why a 23-year-old man Myrtle Beach man crashed his car into the Socastee swing bridge late Monday morning.The initial results of an autopsy released Wednesday were inconclusive, according to the Horry County Coroner’s Office. The finding is common, and the coroner’s office said more testing and analysis will be done.The coroner’s office said it could be eight to 12 weeks or more to determine an official cause of death....
SOCASTEE, S.C. (WBTW) — It could be months before authorities know more about why a 23-year-old man Myrtle Beach man crashed his car into the Socastee swing bridge late Monday morning.
The initial results of an autopsy released Wednesday were inconclusive, according to the Horry County Coroner’s Office. The finding is common, and the coroner’s office said more testing and analysis will be done.
The coroner’s office said it could be eight to 12 weeks or more to determine an official cause of death.
Demeatrius Chandler Jr. died after the South Carolina Highway Patrol said his car hit the bridge on Dick Pond Road and crashed into the Intracoastal Waterway. The bridge remained closed Wednesday while the South Carolina Department of Transportation continued to make repairs.
The crash took place just before noon on Monday, and by early afternoon, Horry County authorities said a dive team had recovered a body from the water.
Forestbrook resident Jesi Allison was one of several people who saw the crash happen. She said she was walking back home from Breakfast House on Dick Pond Road at about 11:30 a.m. when she was almost hit by a silver car who was “driving erratically.”
“There were maybe six cars to the left of me on the road going toward the swing bridge,” she said. “I’m standing at the Dollar General, and I had moved because I saw him coming and he slammed past me. As soon as he got around those cars, he jerked it back over in front of them and just hauled it. I could see him all the way down to the light, and he never stopped.”
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Dennis Bright is a digital producer at News13. Dennis is a West Virginia native and graduate of Marshall University. He has won copyediting and journalism awards in West Virginia and Ohio. Follow Dennis on Twitter and read more of his work here.
SOCASTEE, S.C. (WMBF) - A Socastee community shared their thoughts on a much-needed change when it comes to the flow of traffic.A new solution will now benefit those living in the area.“You hear the screech of tires, you hear the impact, you hear the glass, then you hear the sirens,” said Scott Mourton, a Socastee resident.From frequent accidents to a standstill along the busy Highway 707,Socastee residents like Mourton said it’s two things of the norm.“The traffic is tenfold increas...
SOCASTEE, S.C. (WMBF) - A Socastee community shared their thoughts on a much-needed change when it comes to the flow of traffic.
A new solution will now benefit those living in the area.
“You hear the screech of tires, you hear the impact, you hear the glass, then you hear the sirens,” said Scott Mourton, a Socastee resident.
From frequent accidents to a standstill along the busy Highway 707,
Socastee residents like Mourton said it’s two things of the norm.
“The traffic is tenfold increased, and people just come flying off of it, and it just gets backed up,” he said. “Then once you get into an accident out here, I’ve sat out there for an hour trying to get home.”
Tern Hall Drive sits off Highway 707, and is one area residents said is overlooked when it comes to the need for a traffic signal.
“SCDOT is installing a signal at this intersection to help better facilitate traffic in and around the area,” the South Carolina Department of Transporation said in a statement provided to WMBF News. “We worked closely with representative Crawford and local officials and appreciate their support on the project.”
Other residents shared sentiments about the need for a traffic signal.
“I lived all over the country. Baltimore, Cleveland, Pennsylvania...all over. And I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” said Matt McConnell. “Sometimes it takes us half an hour just to get outside on to 707. It’s been needed for quite a while. They’ve been complaining about it for as long as I’ve been here for three years. It’s desperately needed...best thing they could ever do.”
Mourton added the new traffic signals will enhance safety.
“It’s just a peace of mind really,” he said. “I’d rather sit there at the light knowing it’s going to turn eventually than sit there trying to fight the traffic and you could literally sit here for 15 or 20 minutes and not get out.”
A SCDOT spokesperson said the new traffic signals should be up and running in the coming weeks.
Stay with WMBF News for updates.
Copyright 2023 WMBF. All rights reserved.
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — Beloved Socastee High School basketball coach Derrick Hilton passed away peacefully with his family Sunday night. He was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cancer in October 2022."Now I see him, I see him in heaven playing basketball, coaching. I see him there playing basketball. I woke up this morning seeing him," said Debra Q. Brooks, Coach Hilton's mother.When he was diagnosed,...
HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — Beloved Socastee High School basketball coach Derrick Hilton passed away peacefully with his family Sunday night. He was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cancer in October 2022.
"Now I see him, I see him in heaven playing basketball, coaching. I see him there playing basketball. I woke up this morning seeing him," said Debra Q. Brooks, Coach Hilton's mother.
"He had a heart of gold. Even when he took his last breath, he still was determined and he was always concerned about everybody else. He always put himself last, always," Brooks said.
"Every now and then you have someone come along that's above the norm. He was above the above," said Derrick Hilton, Coach Hilton's father.
His parents said he had a passion for basketball at a very young age.
"We didn't have a basketball hoop. He would take a milk crate and put in on a pole and play ball," Brooks said.
Coach Hilton dreamed about making it to the NBA and played his entire academic career.
He never made it to the big leagues, but he found an even better gig as the coach for the Socastee High School men's varsity basketball team.
"He always said he wanted to be a coach at the high school where he went, so he was blessed to have that. A blessing to do that," Brooks said.
Coach Hilton was also the Los Angeles Lakers' self-proclaimed number-one fan.
"As I was whispering in his ear talking to him and saying it's okay for you to move on. I said now you get a chance to play for Kobe. And he just breathed a chuckle," Coach Hilton's father said.
Hilton was a man of many titles, a coach, a guidance counselor, but the one most special to him; a family man.
"I'm just so proud of him. He's an awesome man, awesome son, brother, uncle. I'm just so thankful the lord blessed me with 43 years with him. I couldn't ask for a better son," Brooks said.
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A week after Socastee High School’s head basketball coach passed away after a battle with cancer, those he coached and left an imprint on are remembering his legacy.
“It’s tough because he was rooting for me,” said Preston Smith, a recent Socastee alumnus.
Smith recalls coach Derrick Hilton’s impact on him going back to the 8th grade.
“He’s a big reason why I am going to college and playing basketball,” he added.
From starring in the State Championship in 1998 to leading his team as head coach for nearly two decades later, Hilton was deeply rooted in the Socastee community.
Even in his last days, Hilton was offering those around him words of encouragement.
“Just keep grinding, and I was like, dang, that was the last thing he said to me,” said Smith.
Other basketball communities are also mourning Hilton’s death.
“Derrick Hilton was a great friend of ours at big shots, he was part of our family,” said The COO of Big Shots, Kevin Schneider. “He impacted so many around not just the Grand Strand but nationally,” Schneider added.
“I was [in] a student teacher game, and we ended up guarding each other, and that whole time like it’s even in our yearbook, it’s just us smiling at each other while we’re playing against each other, and that’s just how it was with me and him,” said Smith.
From playing alongside Hilton in his youth to joining him as coach years later, Socastee’s JV Head Coach Alvin Green looks back on the memories they shared.
“I’m just happy to most importantly have been in his presence and you know just learn a lot from him and just be that little brother next to him all the time,” said Green. “Just being that little pest and we need to try this, or maybe we should do this or whatever, and he’s like
“I got you AG, and just give me that smile,” said Green.
Although he’ll be missed by many, they’re hoping to let his legacy live on.
“Like I was supposed to be him on the court, and that’s what I tried my best to do,” said Smith. “He was always making sure I was doing the right thing when it comes to being on the court, like being a leader on the court.”
The Socastee community will hold a celebration of life memorial for Hilton at the Socastee High School Gymnasium on Monday at 1 p.m.
Hilton was diagnosed with renal cancer in October 2022. Doctors told him it reached stage four, spreading to his hips and lungs.
Copyright 2023 WMBF. All rights reserved.