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S.C. motorists and truckers got a brief, detour-less window with a clear shot through the state’s flood-ravaged Pee Dee region Wednesday, as flooding from Florence subsided, only to worsen.
The S.C. Department of Transportation Thursday closed a roughly 18-mile stretch of Interstate 95 in both directions from U.S. 52 to S.C. 38 “due to the imminent threat of flooding at the Great Pee Dee River.”
I-95 also was closed to all northbound traffic south of exit 160.
In addition, multiple segments of I-95 still are closed in North Carolina, beginning at mile marker 13 at U.S. 74.
“The flood we’re expecting hasn’t gotten here yet,” Transportation Department spokesman Pete Poore said. “We’re not expecting the four rivers we’re watching to crest until this weekend or early next week – the Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, Lynches and Waccamaw rivers.”
The decision to close the interstate came less than 12 hours after Transportation Department had reopened a nine-mile stretch of I-95 near the North Carolina border.
Motorists traveling north on I-95 were being detoured onto I-20 west to Columbia at exit 160, and then north on I-77. Southbound traffic near Dillon was directed to S.C. 38 at exit 181.
From Georgia, drivers should take I-95 north to I-26 west to I-77 north into North Carolina, according to the DOT.
State officials are discouraging people from driving in northeastern South Carolina because of flooded and damaged roads, including sections of U.S. 52 in Chesterfield County and U.S. 15 in Darlington County.
“We’ve got barricades and engineers moving downrange,” said Tom Johnson, the Transportation Department’s emergency manager. “There will be a lot of assistance coming in and road damage reports coming (from the Pee Dee and Horry County). And we’re going to be working those now until next week.”
About 190 roads and bridges remained closed statewide as of 4 p.m. Thursday due to widespread flooding on primary and secondary routes throughout the Pee Dee, slightly down from the day before.
Most of the closed roads are in counties hugging the North Carolina border, where flood waters from still swelling rivers make their way into South Carolina on their way to the coast.
Road conditions at 4 p.m. included:
- Crews continued flood mitigation efforts on U.S. 501 and U.S. 378 in Horry County. The Transportation Department has completed a mile-long barrier to divert water along the Lynches River in Florence County. State officials have said U.S. 378 likely will be the only available route for access into Horry County.
- The U.S. 501 Bypass near Conway also is expected to be the only route crossing the Waccamaw River leading into the Myrtle Beach area. The Transportation Department still was working Thursday on a temporary, 1.5-mile barrier on the U.S. 501 Bypass in Conway. That work is expected to be completed by Friday. Initially, DOT officials said they expected that work to be completed Wednesday. “There was opportunity to add more sandbags to it since we have some time. It’s not a delay. We’re just doing a better job,” Poore said
- Hydrovac trucks were deployed to both highway to further efforts to keep dry the main arteries in and out of Horry County. Workers and equipment also were pre-positioned on U.S. 501 at Galivants Ferry as the Little Pee Dee River was expected to hit a near-record crest Thursday of just under 17 feet
The Transportation Department was closing S.C. 22 from S.C. 905 to S.C. 90 beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday as the Waccamaw River rises. U.S. 501 to Conway remains open. Driver’s traveling east of Conway should use U.S. 501. S.C. 22 will remain open from U.S. 501 to S.C. 905 and, later, from S.C. 90 to U.S. 17 to allow residents access to flooded areas.