Bridge replacement ends 15-year fire department detour

SLATER, S.C. – For the first time in a decade and a half, Slater-Marietta Fire Department pumper trucks are able to respond to calls on the southern side of the North Saluda River without detouring around the bridge on Bates Bridge Road, just below the mill.

The bridge – rated structurally deficient and load restricted since October of 2000 – was recently replaced, ending the need for firefighters to use a time-costing detour of over two miles.

“We had one group of 8 to 10 residents whose subdivision is 1.2 miles from the station,” said Fire Chief Marion Cruell. “With the required detour, it was 3.4 miles.”

(Pictured, from left to right: S.C. Dist. 17 Rep. Mike Burns, Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill, SCDOT engineers Brandon Wilson and Jason Cisson, Slater-Marietta Fire Chief Marion Cruell, and Ben Cleveland, fire commission treasurer.)

Although originally slated to be replaced back in 2008, funding cuts ultimately resulted in the bridge being removed from the construction list. But the push to replace the bridge continued, with efforts led by a number of area residents and politicians, including S.C. Rep Mike Burns and Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill.

With the passage of Act 98 into law in 2013, millions of additional dollars were earmarked for road repairs, and the political push to get the bridge onto the priority list was successful. Long awaited, construction began on Aug. 25 of this year.

Completed at a cost just under $800,000 (on budget, per SCDOT officials), the new 120-foot bridge has wider lanes and shoulders than the old bridge, and columns that were in the river were removed.

“We sincerely appreciate the effort that both Joe and Mike put into getting this bridge replaced,” Cruell said. "It is something we've needed for 15 years, and it will serve the citizens well."