Aiken leaders work to give Fairfield Street bridge second chance

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - After about six years, the Fairfield Street bridge in Aiken could be on its way to reopening.

City leaders recently found a way to get more money to fix this route downtown.

Mounds of sand and dirt now filled with weeds show a very different sign of life than the Fairfield Street bridge once had more than six years ago.

Now, city leaders are working to give it a second chance.

A once busy bridge is now a ghost of its past.

Since then, it’s gone untouched, except for Tom, who comes by once in a while to sweep it.

“It’s just going down here is all these orange signs and stuff. It’s kind of ugly the bridges kind of looks bad,” he said.

Two years ago, an engineering firm presented Aiken City Council with some options to repair and reopen the old wooden bridge.

“It’s like a household budget. You have more needs than you have the ability to pay. Whether it becomes a pedestrian thoroughfare or reopened to motor vehicle traffic. Finding the funds to do so is always the challenge. And that’s the case here,” said Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh.

Beatrice McGee is an Aiken resident. She spoke at Monday’s council meeting.

She said, “I believe the fact that that bridge is closed, has been closed remains closed, sends a very strong message. Or at least it does to me. That doesn’t matter.”

The state department of transportation offered the city roughly $1.3 million to repair the bridge. Chump-change compared to a price tag upwards of $4 million.

“The availability of local matching funds has been the challenge. And we believe that with the potential of plutonium money on the table, that can be our local match. The process for funding for that has been identified,” said McGee.

Until then, Tom’s got it covered.

“I’m retired, and I’ve got plenty of time to do it,” he said.

City workers hope to put the Fairfield Street bridge on the agenda before the year is out so that one day the signs can come down.

The next step is for the city council to decide whether to spend part of the plutonium money on the bridge. From there, they can move forward with a firm estimate to make those repairs.