Last updated: October 30. 2013 2:22PM - 779 Views
Lauren Williams Staff Writer

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Motorists traveling between Sampson and Bladen counties will have to take alternate routes come next week if used to driving down Greens Bridge Road (SR 1208), located about a mile north of JCT NC 210.

Beginning Monday, Nov. 4 at 8 a.m., bridge replacement work will start on two bridges located on Greens Bridge Road, a major project that will close both lanes of the roadway.

While the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s media release announcing the bridge replacements indicates that the project will keep the road closed through Sept. 15 of next year, Amanda Glynn, NCDOT Division Bridge Program Manager, said she did not expect the work to require that much time.

“That’s the last date of available contract time. The contractor does have until then to get the work done,” she explained, “but I don’t think it will take that long. I don’t think it’s that complex.”

The two bridges, both built in 1952, are in close proximity to each other, according to Glynn, with one, bridge No. 78, crossing over South River and the other, bridge No. 77, crossing over the river’s overflow.

“They both have a low postings or low weight limits,” she explained of why the bridges need replacing. “They can’t carry buses, large trucks, large farm equipment.”

Calling it “great timing” for the replacement work to take place, Glynn noted that the NCDOT is aiming to have the project completed by the end of the winter.

“There’s a golf course nearby,” she said, adding that a lot of farming is also done in the area. “We’re hoping to get it done over the winter so that we affect those businesses as little as possible.”

Once the bridge replacements are made, the road, she pointed out, will be accessible and more useful to a wider array of motorists. “It will open the route up to larger vehicles that are currently restricted.”

A total of seven contractors bid on the project, reported Glynn, and the contract for the replacement work has been awarded to United Contractors, Inc., which is headquartered in Iowa, for a little over $1.2 million.

While many of the bridge replacements in Sampson County have been, and will continue to be, state funded, the replacement of Greens Bridge Road’s two bridges is being federally funded, she added.

According to the NCDOT website, “to be eligible for federal bridge replacement funding, bridges must have a sufficiency rating of less than 50.”

Both bridges have been classified by the NCDOT on its website as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.

Although still safe to travel, “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.”

Similarly, when a bridge is flagged as structurally deficient, it is still safe for motorists but “requires repairs and was built to design standards no longer used for bridges. 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 wear and tear.”

An interesting part of bridges being federally funded, shared Glynn, is that a percentage of each project is given to businesses in need of assistance.

For this project, “there is a goal of seven percent that has to be paid out to a disadvantaged business enterprise,” she explained, describing it as a way improving roadways while also “putting money back into those smaller businesses.”

Glynn added that more bridge replacements on the schedule for Sampson County.

“Sampson has a lot of small small bridges that were all built around the same time period so we’re getting to that point where something has to be done. It’s great that we’re putting this funding into making those structures new,” she said. “We’re making a big impact in the health of our infrastructure.”

For more information about this and other bridge replacements in Sampson and the surrounding counties, please 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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