TREASURE ISLAND — Traffic patterns will soon return to normal for residents as the finishing touches are completed on two bridge construction projects.
The refurbishing of the Isle of Palms bridge and the Isle of Capri bridge — a $4 million effort — is expected to be finished by Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively.
Bad weather and problems with utility relocations caused some delay, said Public Works Director Jim Murphy. Both bridges were originally expected to be completed in November.
But overall the projects have gone more smoothly than expected, he said.
"Residents did pretty well driving once they got used to the traffic pattern," Murphy said.
Since work began in April, drivers have dealt with daily lane closures with traffic funneled to one lane while construction crews worked to build wider traffic lanes and 5-foot-wide sidewalks.
The bridges, built in the 1950s, were substandard and load limited. When completed, Murphy said, the bridges will be able to handle the standard weight loads of most highways.
An unexpected find during construction that added another $61,000 to the cost was a deteriorating seawall that needed to be replaced on the southwest corner of the Isle of Capri bridge.
Funding for the bridge replacements came from a special property tax residents approved in 2011. That tax also paid for the recent $1.2 million beach walk refurbishing.
Mayor Bob Minning said he thought the fact that the city publicized the project well in advance and met with residents to discuss the process along with engineering firm Johnson Brothers contributed to a smoother operation.
"We didn't have the hassle we thought we would," he said. "I think residents realized this is the way it is going to be and said we'll have to live with it."
However, more work is ahead. Murphy said the city is evaluating bids from companies to repaint the city's three causeway bridges — east, west and drawbridge — which he hopes will begin in the next few months.
City commissioners recently approved a $17.6 million budget for 2013-14 that will set aside funds toward infrastructure maintenance and repairs to roads, bridges and city buildings. The move bumped up the tax rate slightly from $3.14 for every $1,000 in taxable property value to $3.33.
Murphy expects the money for the repainting will probably come from those funds.
There may be more traffic pattern disruption ahead once painting gets under way.