Last updated: September 11. 2013 5:07PM - 1352 Views
Lauren Williams Staff Writer

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Motorists traveling in the communities north of Newton Grove near the Wayne County line may have to find alternate routes over the course of the next week if used to traveling on Sampson’s Emmet Thornton Road.

Necessary bridge maintenance closed both lanes of Emmet Thornton Road (SR 1710), located 0.6 miles south of NC 50/55, this past Monday and the road will remain closed through Friday, Sept. 20 as repairs are being made.

Local DOT district engineer Lin Reynolds described the maintenance as “routine bulkhead replacement,” explaining that some of the wood had rotted and DOT crews will be working to replace those timbers. “It’s really about the simplest thing they do. They’re not having to replace pilings or anything major like that.”

NCDOT division bridge program manager Amanda Glynn agreed, noting that the focus of the maintenance is taking place at the end of bridge.

“They’re digging it out and replacing the structure because in many of our older bridges the bulkheads are made of timber which will decay over time,” explained Glynn, pointing out that the bulkheads in need of replacing are around 50 years old. “When that happens, dirt can start coming through the bulkhead wall.”

Glynn added that when dirt comes through the wall, sediment can start to build up, causing motorists to sometimes feel a small bump at the end of a bridge.

Although cited as an emergency closure on the NCDOT’s online incident report, Glynn stressed that the closure was not an emergency but rather planned.

According to the NCDOT’s website, the bridge on Emmet Thornton Road, which was built in 1952 over Kill Swamp, is classified as both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete as of July 5, 2013.

An NCDOT fact sheet defines structurally deficient bridges as safe but requiring repairs. “A bridge is considered structurally deficient if it is in relatively poor condition, or has insufficient load-carrying capacity. The insufficient load capacity could be due to age, the original design or to wear and tear.”

Functionally obsolete bridges are also safe but “need to be replaced to meet current and future traffic demands. A bridge is considered functionally obsolete if it is narrow, has inadequate under-clearances, has insufficient load-carrying capacity, is poorly aligned with the roadway, and can no longer adequately service today’s traffic.”

According to its website, the “NCDOT’s budget includes $65 million annually for bridge maintenance.”

For more information, contact local bridge maintenance supervisor Shannon Baylor at 910-592-8168. Also visit www.ncdot.gov.

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at lwilliams@civitasmedia.com.

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