Lafayette bridge lighting still a work in progress

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Pedestrians who use the Lafayette Drive bridge over the railroad have repeatedly pressed local officials about the lack of lighting on the bridge, which was opened to traffic 15 months ago. Complaints have been made that it is unsafe for pedestrians to use the bridge after dark. Many residents of South Sumter use the bridge to reach business north of the railroad, according to comments made at Sumter City Council meetings.

The problem will become more urgent after Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday.

According to Jeffrey Wilkes, former resident traffic engineer in Sumter County who is managing the project for the S.C. Department of Transportation, the SCDOT has provided the contractor that built the bridge with the modifications needed to allow a subcontractor for Duke Energy to proceed with installing the lighting.

The design and approval of the modifications by SCDOT engineers has contributed to the delay, The Sumter Item has previously reported.

According to City of Sumter officials, the city agreed to pay for the electricity the lights will use, and Duke Energy agreed to provide and install the bridge's lighting.

Wilkins said he has not received a response to recent inquiries he has made to the bridge contractor. He said that may be because of a change in the contractor's project's management.

"I am going to call senior management and go higher up the chain," Wilkes said. "We've have got to get it done for the people."

He said once the installation begins, it should proceed quickly. He said he would make any possible timetable for the installation known once it is available.

"We may have to have a ribbon cutting for the lights," Wilkes said.