ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — This week, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) announced it will start working on the old Highway 301 pedestrian bridge over Lake Marion.
“There is a real historic nature to this bridge," said State Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter.
Cobb-Hunter says the history of Highway 301 is deeply rooted in Orangeburg County. She says in the 90's, it was a route connecting New York to Florida.
“We are real interested in people knowing, for example, about the origins in Lake Marion, about the families that were displaced when Lake Marion was created," she said.
The 301 pedestrian bridge crossed Lake Marion, connecting Orangeburg and Clarendon counties. In 2017, it was closed down due to safety concerns.
After five years, the South Carolina Department of Transportation has announced it will begin work to restore the bridge.
“We were discouraged, and we were also helpful so we did what we could to put some petitions together and we had a lot of advocates around here trying to push for that," said Santee resident David Walters.
With the use of the $1.6 million in state funding, it plans to repair its damaged steel hand railings and other breaks in the concrete to make it safer for pedestrians.
“We were discouraged, and we were also helpful so we did what we could to put some petitions together and we had a lot of advocates around here trying to push for that," said executive director of Santee Cooper County Promotions Jane Powell.
Cobb-Hunter says she would like to push for private funding to support this project as well. In addition to supporting tourism for visitors, she says this project is also supportive of local commuters.
“Quite frankly, this bridge, it’s not just about recreation, and access to recreation, for a lot of people on both sides of the bridge, it’s a cheap way, especially with the cost of gas now, it’s a cheap way to get to work," she said.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation plans to start working on the bridge in the fall, and finish by next spring.
When it opens, no motorized vehicles will be allowed.