Two bridges that cross over creeks on Highway 39 have been under demolition and reconstruction for months. In talking to a DOT engineer, I was told that it would take six months for construction. The problem is that the bridges are solid concrete, made in the 1920's. Instead of just jackhammering or blasting, the crews had to saw cut the bridges out. Why? Environmental concerns that debris may get into the creeks.
You can't tell me that the impact would be that great if they did. To break up the bridges then pull chunks of concrete out of the water should be quick and easy. Unfortunately, the jobs take a lot longer, thereby polluting the creeks as it is for longer periods of time. Stupid.
It finally looks as if the bridges are going to be finished soon. Now that I am conditioned to take the detour each trip out Highway 39, it will be interesting to see if I habitually drive that way next trip. Actually, only one bridge will be ready this week, so I am still screwed for the time being.
From The Smithfield Herald:
Bridges almost ready
Work on N.C. 39 nearing completion
By Suzette Rodriguez, Staff Reporter
A wider, safer bridge on N.C. 39 over Buffalo Creek north of Selma should be ready for motorists by the middle of next week.
On Monday, a contractor hauled in loads of dirt to build up the road shoulders on either side of the new structure. But he had to delay pouring asphalt because the air and ground temperatures were too cool.
Jimmy Marler, a bridge -maintenance engineer with the state Department of Transportation, said the new bridge is 36 feet wide — 15 feet wider than the old bridge built in 1925. In spite of its age, the old bridge was still sturdy, but too narrow to meet federal standards.
For years, residents had complained about the safety of the bridge as more traffic used N.C. 39. The bridge had also become the scene of several wrecks, some of them serious.
Back in 2003, the DOT put on its replacement list the Buffalo Creek bridge and another bridge farther north on N.C. 39 at Little River. The work was part of a DOT program to improve safety on rural highways.
"Those bridges have been our priority," Marler said.
Meanwhile, work on the second bridge is expected to wrap up by the first week in March. While construction started Sept. 5 on both bridges, the bridge at Little River has taken longer to build. On Monday, the crew finished setting the spans of the bridge, Marler said.
Because of the construction, motorists have had to follow detours of about seven miles. But once the Buffalo Creek bridge opens, the detour will shorten to about a mile and a half, Marler said.
Residents who live on N.C. 39 near the bridges have had a detour of about two miles, he added. "So it’s not been that bad," he said.
During the construction at Buffalo Creek, Clarence Bass, who lives in the house just north of the bridge, has been a regular at the job site. "It’s looking great," he said Monday as he watched workers seal joints on the bed of the bridge. "It’s going to be a real asset to the community and to traffic."
Bass said he had no idea the construction would be so time-consuming. "People have to be patient," he added.