When the residents of the Teals Mill Community started their day on Nov. 3, many learned that their worst fear was realized with the recent closing of the Teals Mill bridge. The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SC DOT) closed the road late on Nov. 2 following reports road damage on the south bridge in front of the Teals Mill Mini Mart.
Officials from DOT have not yet made any decisions regarding the road repair, but are predicting that the bridge will be closed for at least a year.
“We are looking at several options, but nothing is firm at this point,” Assistant Director of Maintenance for SC DOT Perry Crocker said. “The section of the road that is closed has been in the planning stages for some time, so we may proceed with trying to expedite that.”
“There are options to get the structure re-opened, due to the amount of damage to the structures at this time, the options may not be as feasible as we hoped, but we are still exploring all avenues,” Crocker continued. “All options need to be addressed because it is not a cheap fix.”
Crocker stated that a decision regarding what the SC DOT will do should occur within the next few weeks. Once a decision is made it will be updated to the DOT website at www.scdot.org.
The bridge which has traditionally marked the division of the towns of Cheraw and Chesterfield has been a concern for people of the Teals Mill community for a long time. The road and the two bridges that span the pond have been patched many times over the years without any substantial repairs to the structure.
“We knew that this was going to happen, the road has been a problem for a long time,” said Melissa Lloret, who works at the mini mart. “They have been patching up the road for years and large trucks, who shouldn’t be using the bridge in the first place are still coming through.”
In a story that ran in the Chronicle in September entitled “Pothole Panic,” members of the Teals Mill Community voiced their concerns regarding the road, dangerous driving conditions and its importance for those living in the community.
“I can stand out in my yard after 6 p.m. and I can count anywhere from five to eight cars a minute coming down the road,” said R.P. Presson, resident of Teals Mill and chief of the Teal’s Mill Volunteer Fire Department. “It is a short cut coming off Highway 9 and a lot of people use this road to get back and forth to work.”
Though the detour around the bridge is only 4 miles long, taking the driver down James Teal Road, Huntley Mill Road and Bear Creek Road, residents in the area are worried that there will be increased response times for the local fire department who now has to travel the detour as well.
In response to the potential delays for the Teals Mill Volunteer Fire Department when responding to fires south of the bridge, the Cheraw Fire Department has stepped in to help the residents of the area.
“The Cheraw Fire Department will act as first responders to calls on the south side of the bridge with Teals Mill volunteer firefighters taking over once they arrive on the scene,” said Cheraw Fire Chief John L. Melton. “Teals Mill is a straight shot for us. If the tone went off right now, these guys would be out there in no time. As far as the fire protection for the people in Teals Mill, they are in good hands.”
Melton added that in the case of a fire, residents don’t need to worry about who to call, when they call 911 the dispatcher on duty will signal the appropriate fire departments.