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  • Jefferson Weaver

Lake Waccamaw bridge could be finished by July 4

The long-awaited link near the Lake Waccamaw Dam could be complete within two weeks.

The project, a cooperative effort between the State Park and Department of Transportation, will provide a safe, handicapped accessible walkway between Waccamaw Shores and the underutilized section of the Lake Waccamaw State Park.

The bridge measures 364 feet and rises above the highest recorded floodwaters at the lake. Fishing and observation platforms will provide rest are as along the bridge. The bridge is being built by J.E. Thompson of Whiteville, at a cost of $360,000 from the Department of Transportation.

The bridge saw numerous construction delays due to weather and supply problems, but should undergo final inspections within days, according to Neal Pate of the State Parks department. Production of 120-plus special pilings and other materials was put on hold last year due to Hurricane Harvey. State officials have had multiple problems obtaining stainless steel fittings that met specifications.

“If everything goes well, we’ll be creating a punchlist and doing inspections very soon,” Pate said.

Lake Waccamaw Town Manager Harry Foley said the bridge will help complete a circular walking/biking trail around the lake, a longtime goal for many in the town.

“It’s really going to be a great addition to the lake,” he said. “They’re working steadily on it.”

Organizers of the Take The Lake Personal Fitness challenge have been waiting for years for the bridge to come to fruition. The event used the dam to create a complete circuit of the lake in years past, but safety issues led officials to put a halt to that practice.

Without a crossing to the state park, participants had to make a U-turn at the dam and work their way back up Waccamaw Shores. The event, which includes both a walk/run and a bicycle portion through the state park, is expected to make the full loop of the lake this year.

Park officials hope the addition of the bridge – which connects two areas maintained by the State Parks – will encourage more visitors to the Waccamaw River portion of the park. Plans are in place to establish a canoe/kayak landing, additional primitive campsites, and other improvements in the newest section of the park, which can now only be accessed by boat or hiking from the main park facility.

“This will be a big deal for that end of the park and our town,” Foley said. “We’re looking forward to it.”

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