Three new bridges to open

By: Staff report

RALEIGH – Motorists will be driving on a trio of brand new bridges this weekend over the Cape Fear River on N.C. 11 near the Bladen-Columbus county line.

Paving work to provide safe access to the new bridges is expected to wrap up today, and on Saturday morning, new pavement markings are scheduled to be put in place. Once that is complete, vehicles will be allowed to switch over to the new traffic pattern onto the bridges.

The Bladen County Sheriff’s Department will be in place overnight tonight to handle traffic control where the traffic switch will take place to keep drivers on the existing lanes until then. Motorists are urged to use extra caution in the area until the final new pattern is in place.

The bridges being replaced were each more than 60 years old, and considered structurally deficient. That meant that while they remained safe, they were in deteriorating condition and required significant maintenance to remain in service. To fully address the issues on a structurally deficient bridge, extensive rehabilitation or replacement is usually required.

A $14.9 million contract for the new bridges was awarded in late 2012 to HRI Bridge Co. of Blacksburg, S.C. It was able to build the river bridge and two overflow bridges beside the old structures to avoid major traffic impacts during the work.

Although the new bridges and traffic pattern will be in place, the project is not over, as now the contractor will remove the old bridges and do final embankment work. That should wrap up in April 2016.

Staff report