The Beaman Street bridge, used as a way to get to the heart of Clinton from U.S. 421 and U.S. 701 and vice versa, will remain open in the coming weeks before closing down for a bridge replacement project expected to take six months.
“The bridge replacement part of this project is now under contract, but there is still some ongoing communication utility work to be completed before the bridge contractor can begin,” said Keith Eason, N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) district engineer for Sampson and Duplin. “So we decided to open to traffic until all the utility work was complete.”
The stretch of Beaman, located in the area of Clinton Urgent Care and the Beaman Street fire station, has been opened to traffic in recent weeks after being closed for the preceding three months. It could be open for about another month before closing off for approximately half a year, NCDOT officials said, however the timetable is not set in stone.
“We expect to close it again in a month or so,” said Eason. “We do not have any definite dates due to utility work to be completed. Once the bridge contractor can begin and the road is closed, we expect it to be closed approximately six months.“
The small section was closed from the end of January to the end of April before being opened again. There are two separate projects, with a utility relocation expected to be followed by a six-month bridge replacement project, taking the closure until at least October, however that timeline has been delayed.
According to initial NCDOT plans, the bridge replacement had an initial start date of April 3 start date and a completion date slated for October.
Motorists utilized side streets Peterson Street and McArthur Lane as the primary detour from Beaman Street to U.S. 701 Business in avoiding the work through the end of April, and DOT will revert to that traffic pattern when the section is closed down again.
Planning for the project began in earnest in the fall of 2016, when NCDOT informed the City of Clinton that the Beaman Street bridge was selected for replacement as part of a biannual study that factors in bridge condition, then prioritizes needs based on available funds. As part of a multi-step process between the city and NCDOT, utilities were located and a consultant was brought in to work with city officials through the design.
About a year later, in September 2017, the City Council approved a bid from Herring Rivenbark for utility relocation in the amount of $431,050 after reviewing the bids over the summer. That is the base bid, with a 10 percent contingency and engineering fees not included. The city is fronting the funds for that, but will be 100 percent reimbursed by the state, according to City engineer Russell Byrd.
“We just want to ensure that the infrastructure is sound. As we’ve done with N.C. 24, the goal with any (utility relocation) is to complete it in conjunction or ahead of the DOT project,” Byrd said earlier this year. “Once that is completed, the actual bridge itself will be replaced. The existing bridge is much smaller than the new one will be. That new bridge will be much wider and much longer.”
Moving water and sewer to the west side of the bridge, as well as having Duke Progress coming in to move its utilities — replacing decrepit pipe with superior material — was a necessary measure to “get out of the way of the bridge, so we can work on those utilities when we need to,” Byrd has explained. “It’s always better to be proactive and move utilities first.”
In other road-related news, according to NCDOT’s Sampson/Duplin County Bridge Maintenance officials, a segment of Penny Tew Mill Road in the Herring community, about one-tenth of a mile north of Feed Mill Road over Little Coharie Creek, will be closed starting Monday.
Both north and southbound lanes of two-lane primary highway will be closed starting on Monday, May 21, at 9 a.m. and extend until Friday, June 1, at 5 p.m.
The NCDOT Bridge Maintenance Department will be doing maintenance on the bridge in an effort to improve the quality of the road and the safety of the traveling public, officials said.
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.