James B. Edwards Bridge

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Wando River Bridge
James B. Edwards Bridge as seen from the Arthur Ravenel Bridge
Coordinates32°51′36″N 79°53′48″W / 32.8599°N 79.8966°W / 32.8599; -79.8966Coordinates: 32°51′36″N 79°53′48″W / 32.8599°N 79.8966°W / 32.8599; -79.8966
Carries I‑526
CrossesWando River
LocaleCharleston - Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Official nameJames B. Edwards Bridge[1]
Maintained bySouth Carolina Department of Transportation
Total length7,900 feet
WidthTwin 44-foot (13 m) wide bridges
Construction cost$34 million[2]
Opened1989; 30 years ago (1989)
Daily traffic45,300[3]

The James B. Edwards Bridge , also referred to as the Wando River Bridge, is a pair of pre-cast post-tensioned concrete box girder bridges that span the Wando River between Mount Pleasant and Daniel Island on Interstate 526 (I-526) in South Carolina.

The bridge was designed by Figg Bridge Engineers and is owned and maintained by the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The bridge is named for James B. Edwards, who was a governor of South Carolina, Secretary of Energy, and long-time president of the Medical University of South Carolina.


The bridge was constructed of pre-cast concrete segments using top-down construction. Segments were transported along already completed spans and put in place from above. This construction method was selected to reduce construction impacts on the marsh areas along the banks of the Wando River.[4] The bridge is designed and built to accommodate six lanes of traffic with narrow shoulders, and has been used for four since opening. The construction contractor was T.L. James Associates of Louisiana.[5]

The bridge has a history of issues that arose during or from the construction. Allegations about the workmanship led to a year-long investigation which found no issues. The construction contract ended in countersuits with the SCDOT suing for delays and the contractor suing for design deficiencies. This resulted in a $4.9 million settlement paid to the contractor. Aluminum expansion joints installed on the bridge failed within four years, which required SCDOT to install replacements at a cost of $2 million. And the profile of the bridge deck would cause discomfort (vertical pitching of motorists).[6][7]

2018 Post-tensioning failure[edit]

A failure of post-tensioning cables, which are inside the box girder of the bridge, caused a closure of the westbound spans mid-day on May 14, 2018. Weekly inspections of the 92 cables inside the bridge had been occurring since a repair project in 2016.[8] On Sunday May 20, 2018 the eastbound lanes were altered to allow two-way traffic while repairs to the westbound side take place. The westbound span reopened to traffic on June 2, 2018.[9] A 2800-page November 28, 2018 engineering report provided fourteen recommendations which will be implemented to ensure the bridge meets its design life of 75 years. The recommendations include the installation of redundant post-tensioning cables.[10]


  1. ^ Concurrent Resolution of the South Carolina General Assembly
  2. ^ http://www.figgbridge.com/james_edwards_bridge.html
  3. ^ SCDOT Traffic Counts, Accessed April 20, 2007
  4. ^ Kohls, Amy R. and D. Brice Urquhart, Design Challenges and Construction Benefits of Precast Segmental Rail Bridges, Accessed April 20, 2007.
  5. ^ Tripp, Drew (May 16, 2018). "Wando Bridge designer: 1 broken cable would not make bridge unsafe for driving". abcnews4.com. Charleston, SC: WCIV. Archived from the original on July 7, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  6. ^ Smith, Clenn; Behre, Robert; Berry Hawes, Jennifer (May 15, 2018). "Renowned firm that designed Wando River bridge has ties to previous span collapses". postandcourier.com. Charleston, SC: The Post and Courier, Inc. Archived from the original on July 7, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  7. ^ Bartelme, Tony (February 28, 1995). "Four-year-old bridge to get costly repairs". postandcourier.com. Charleston, SC: The Post and Courier, Inc. Archived from the original on July 7, 2018. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  8. ^ Knapp, Andrew and Jackson, Angie, May 14, 2018. Broken cable in Wando River bridge closes westbound I-526 for at least 2 days . Post & Courier. Charleston, SC. Archived version
  9. ^ Knapp, Andrew (May 31, 2018). "Wando River bridge expected to reopen Saturday". postandcourier.com. Charleston, SC: The Post and Courier, Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Yee, Gregory; Jackson, Angie (January 25, 2019). "Yearlong repairs planned to improve longevity of troubled Wando River bridge". postandcourier.com. Charleston, SC: The Post and Courier, Inc. Retrieved February 2, 2019.