U.S. 701 bridge structure fine; debris field massive

By: Chrysta Carroll and Alan Wooten - Bladen Journal
Alan Wooten | Bladen Journal Trees, logs, fuel containers - just about anything one might expect to be floating down the Cape Fear River has come to rest against a span of U.S. 701 at the entrance to Elizabethtown. The structure of the bridge is not in question, authorities said. The debris field can't be removed until the water level has some measure of receding.
Alan Wooten | Bladen Journal The structure of the U.S. 701 bridge over the Cape Fear River is not in question, authorities say. But the debris field piled against the southbound span needs to be removed, and workers need the lanes shut down so that they can prepare the highway for an extended time of two-way traffic on the northbound side.
Alan Wooten | Bladen Journal Trees, logs, fuel containers - just about anything one might expect to be floating down the Cape Fear River has come to rest against a span of U.S. 701 at the entrance to Elizabethtown. The structure of the bridge is not in question, authorities said. The debris field can't be removed until the water level has some measure of receding.

ELIZABETHTOWN — A decision on how to remove the debris field piled against one of the spans of the U.S. 701 bridge into Elizabethtown is yet to be made.

The structure of the bridge, said Bradley Kinlaw, has not been deemed at risk. Kinlaw is Bladen County’s Emergency Management director.

Work continued Thursday afternoon to prepare U.S. 701 for an extended time of condensed availability, perhaps a couple of weeks, with only the northbound span carrying two-way traffic. Below the southbound span is a debris field of logs, propane tanks, fuel containers — even a tree so big a man of size would have trouble getting his arms around the nearly 60-footer.

Said one observer, “Bet you could walk across that and never touch water.”

The primary option for removal would involve a barge being brought to the area, given the weight of the debris to be collected. The water level of the Cape Fear River would have to recede before this can happen.

Less expected would be a crane on the bridge to load trucks. An option to free the debris to continue downstream also seems unlikely; consensus opinion is it would logjam again.

The Army Corps of Engineers is aware of the situation.

The work being done Thursday is setting up so that traffic coming into town will be able to cross back over into the regular lanes. The median on the Elizabethtown side was being adjusted with supporting structure.

The Cape Fear River continued is rise through Bladen County. Levels measured at the Huske Lock on the northern end indicated the river has peaked there, albeit barely, at 70.74 feet. That’s the second-highest all-time, and higher than Hurricane Matthew level in October 2016.

At 9 p.m. Thursday, it measured 70.24 feet.

At the Elizabethtown measuring station, the river was up to 42.48 feet late Thursday night. That’s just shy of the 43.2-foot record.

The vehicle path entry to Lock No. 1 on the southern end of the county has become flooded. Nearby, authorities fear the community of Kelly will be overcome with water.

Alan Wooten | Bladen Journal
Trees, logs, fuel containers – just about anything one might expect to be floating down the Cape Fear River has come to rest against a span of U.S. 701 at the entrance to Elizabethtown. The structure of the bridge is not in question, authorities said. The debris field can’t be removed until the water level has some measure of receding.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_bridge0925184.jpgAlan Wooten | Bladen Journal
Trees, logs, fuel containers – just about anything one might expect to be floating down the Cape Fear River has come to rest against a span of U.S. 701 at the entrance to Elizabethtown. The structure of the bridge is not in question, authorities said. The debris field can’t be removed until the water level has some measure of receding.

Alan Wooten | Bladen Journal
The structure of the U.S. 701 bridge over the Cape Fear River is not in question, authorities say. But the debris field piled against the southbound span needs to be removed, and workers need the lanes shut down so that they can prepare the highway for an extended time of two-way traffic on the northbound side.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_bridge1092518.jpgAlan Wooten | Bladen Journal
The structure of the U.S. 701 bridge over the Cape Fear River is not in question, authorities say. But the debris field piled against the southbound span needs to be removed, and workers need the lanes shut down so that they can prepare the highway for an extended time of two-way traffic on the northbound side.

Alan Wooten | Bladen Journal
Trees, logs, fuel containers – just about anything one might expect to be floating down the Cape Fear River has come to rest against a span of U.S. 701 at the entrance to Elizabethtown. The structure of the bridge is not in question, authorities said. The debris field can’t be removed until the water level has some measure of receding.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_bridge2092518.jpgAlan Wooten | Bladen Journal
Trees, logs, fuel containers – just about anything one might expect to be floating down the Cape Fear River has come to rest against a span of U.S. 701 at the entrance to Elizabethtown. The structure of the bridge is not in question, authorities said. The debris field can’t be removed until the water level has some measure of receding.

Chrysta Carroll and Alan Wooten

Bladen Journal

Chrysta Carroll can be reached at 910-862-4163 or ccarroll@bladenjournal.com. Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or awooten@bladenjournal.com.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached at 910-862-4163 or ccarroll@bladenjournal.com. Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or awooten@bladenjournal.com.