The Harbor River Bridge: A remnant of Beaufort’s past

The narrow Harbor River Bridge connecting St. Helena Island to Hunting Island State Park is scheduled for replacement in 2018. Before we say goodbye to it, let’s wax a bit of nostalgia and learn more about the historic span connecting Harbor Island to Hunting Island and beyond. The current bridge is 78 years old and is considered structurally deficient, according to the SC Department of Transportation, and the actual replacement process is still moving forward with environmental and engineering studies ongoing.

That gives us another year or so to enjoy it.

The bridge is steeped in local as well as state history. It was built in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal to put people to work during the Great Depression which also gave us Hunting Island State Park.

It’s actual structure length is 2,851 feet long and the main span is only 172 feet long.

The width, now that’s a different story. At only 20 feet wide it’s a very challenging drive over for any vehicle, including these hauling campers on their way to Hunting Island State Park.

The bridge is a riveted-through truss swing bridge that includes a very long series of stringer approach spans at each end. In South Carolina where metal truss bridges are rare, this stands out as only a handful of operational swing bridges still remain in use across the state (about ten remain today).

Plans for the $56 million project are to replace the swing bridge with a fixed span similar to the Broad River Bridge and add pedestrian walkways to both sides with safety shoulders to make it safer for motorists and emergency vehicles. 

At only 20 feet wide it's a very challenging drive over for any vehicle, including these hauling campers on their way to Hunting Island State Park. ESPB photo

At only 20 feet wide it’s a very challenging drive over for any vehicle, including these hauling campers on their way to Hunting Island State Park. ESPB photo

 

The bridge's roadway suffered some damage during Hurricane Matthew. Photo ESPB/Kim Sullivan

The bridge’s roadway suffered some damage during Hurricane Matthew. Photo ESPB/Kim Sullivan

 

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