More than a year after a rain storm swept it away, Anderson County officials reopened a new bridge over Jones Creek on May 26.
In February 2020, severe weather ravaged the southeast. The storm left Anderson County more than $ 1.2 million in damage – enough to call for disaster relief, according to an article in the Independent-Mail. Dozens of homes were damaged and flooding washed away several roads and bridges, including what was once known as the Jones Creek Bridge on Shackleburg Road.
Although not widely used, Matt Hogan, the department manager at Anderson’s Roads & Bridges, said he had received calls from locals asking when the bridge would be completed. He said the devastated bridge affected construction of houses that were being built not far from the bridge, but did not hear of anyone having to travel more than 30 minutes to get to their normal destination.
“Some of them, I heard it was a 30-minute detour that they had to add to their morning for school trips,” Hogan said.
Hogan said the bridge cost $ 500,000 to rebuild and was paid for by the county. They are in the process of requesting reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Over a year later, dozens of community members and county employees, Anderson Roads & Bridges, the Piercetown Fire Department and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office braved the heat. of 90 degrees to celebrate the reconstruction of the bridge and announce a special surprise.
Standing on a podium, several county officials spoke a few words about the bridge’s completion and thanked everyone who participated.
“I just want to say thank you to the county, who built this bridge,” State Senator Richard Cash said. “It’s beautiful. We’ve had several bridges damaged in these recent floods and it takes time to get it right and do it according to the process, but here we are today, everything is fine and I am very grateful for their hard work.
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride, who has lived near the bridge since he was a child, said he played in the creek that runs under the bridge.
“They did a fantastic job,” McBride said. “I saw the progress of the work passing several times. These guys were working as hard as they could and there’s a lot of complicated engineering involved in developing a bridge like this and making sure we don’t have a repeat of what happened in February. latest.
But the biggest announcement was the new name of the bridge. After calling longtime Anderson residents Martin and Mary Ellen Owen to the podium, a new road sign for the bridge was unveiled, revealing its new name, “Owen Farm Bridge”.
Martin and Mary Ellen live on a 200-acre farm, located near the bridge, which was founded by Martin’s grandfather in 1905. At four years old, Martin was already hand-milking the cows and helping the family business until ‘that the dairy cows were sold in the late 90s. Today the couple raise Black Angus cattle and grow their own food.
The dedication surprised the couple. Martin said that at 72, he had used the bridge most of his life. He remembers receiving nearly seven inches of rain during last year’s storm.
“I don’t think that (the bridge) would have been enough to block all of this traffic that we had with all the construction of all these houses,” Martin said. “I think he would have fallen into it.”
Hogan said the bridge was built in the 1960s. But luckily for the Owens, the closed bridge did not affect most of their daily routines. Martin said they only really used it on Sunday morning to get to Anderson.
“I just appreciate that it’s open and that it will stop all the construction traffic that is building right below us,” said Mary Ellen. “… And I appreciate all the people who did the hard work.” “
In addition to the bridge’s dedication to the Owens family and their agricultural heritage, they will also be honored later this year as having a “South Carolina Century Farm” at the Pendleton Agricultural Museum. The program honors families whose farms have been in the family for 100 years or more.
“We are grateful for this,” said Martin. “I know it will be here a lot longer than me and we are grateful for that.”