CHEROKEE CO., SC (WSPA) – The South Carolina Department of Transportation on Saturday announced plans to remove the construction “chute” from the Interstate 85 widening project in Cherokee and Spartanburg counties.
According to SCDOT, the agency ordered the construction contractor to remove the chute as quickly as possible in two phases.
Each withdrawal phase should take less than 90 days.
In the first phase, construction will focus on widening works in the southbound lanes between kilometer markers 81 and 86. After widening is completed, the chute will be removed in this section.
The second phase will repeat the same work but for the section between kilometer markers 86 and 91.
SCDOT said they will negotiate with the contractor next week on the specific timeframe for the chute removal.
In addition, SCDOT announced on Friday that the speed limit in the southbound lanes will be reduced to 45 miles per hour.
New speed limit signs will be installed on Saturday evening and the speed limit will begin to apply immediately.
The changes come following an accident Thursday afternoon that killed three people and injured six others in the construction fall near mile 90.
The Cherokee County coroner later called the falls a “death trap.”
“I think it’s a death trap, an absolute death trap of a concrete maze,” Coroner Dennis Fowler said. “I’m not a traffic engineer, but I don’t think you have to be a traffic engineer to figure out that this doesn’t work.”
South Carolina Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said “all options are on the table” regarding possible changes to the construction zone.
Hall also said state transportation police will also begin patrolling the area to assist the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
SCDOT also said a national work area security expert will be recruited to review further security improvements.