City and residents battle over the Barefoot bridge

The barefoot bridge in North Myrtle Beach will be repainted because the paint on it now is lead based.

Repairs are in the works for the Barefoot Swing Bridge in North Myrtle Beach. In the summer months, drivers make more than 9,000 trips over the bridge that connects the Barefoot Resort area to Barefoot Landing and Highway 17 in North Myrtle Beach.

Monday night, more than 100 people turned out to a meeting in front of the city council between city staff and the Barefoot community. Some business owners and residents who live in the area are upset and say the project shouldn't happen now.

"I love the community we live in, but we have a lot of elderly out that that emergency services are very important to," Glen Talley said.

Barefoot was first developed as a resort community, and the city of North Myrtle Beach took over the maintenance of it in 1998. City staff says it costs more than $3 million to maintain the community every year. That maintenance includes the swing bridge.

Council members are moving forward on a 91 day, $900,000 project to repaint the bridge. As it stands now, the paint is lead based, and presents an environmental hazard.

During the project, the contractor has the ability to close the swing bridge for as many as 49 days. It will remain open to boat traffic. In addition, the contractor's early completion incentive is $2,000 per day, and the late completion penalty is $2,500 per day.

"Previous bids to keep one lane open throughout the project came in at a low cost of $2.1 million with a contract period of 181 days," the city's website said.

If the contractor shuts down traffic, it turns a 3 minute trip over the swing bridge into a 15 mile detour.

There will still be a back way to Barefoot resort via Water Tower Road, so people who live in Barefoot won't be stranded.

The city says whenever the bridge is closed to traffic a paramedic, a fire truck with aerial fire fighting capability, and two police officers would be stationed on the Barefoot Landing side of the bridge.