03/23/2018 – Connelly Springs Road/Castle Bridge will not close; replacement bridge to be built

Posted on: March 23rd, 2018 by admin


March 23, 2018


By Virginia Annable
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Castle Bridge will not close for extensive repairs, and instead, an entirely new bridge will be built next to the existing one, the N.C. Department of Transportation announced.


That fulfills the wishes of local officials, who said NCDOT’s original plan for an extended closure of the bridge between Caldwell and Burke counties would cost jobs and businesses.


But it also more than triples the cost, from $5 million to over $15 million, said David Uchiyama, a communications officer for NCDOT’s Division 11.


After the NCDOT announced in January that the bridge, which carries Connelly Springs Road over the Catawba River, needed extensive repairs to replace its steel beams and concrete top. That would close the bridge for about a year and a half.


But the public outcry prompted local officials in both counties to pressure NCDOT for alternatives.


Now, the bridge will get minor repairs to its corroding steel beams. That work could be done with one lane at a time closed, and it close entirely close the bridge for a few days at most, an NCDOT press release said.


At a meeting between NCDOT and local officials last week, Division 13 Maintenance Engineer Mark Gibbs expressed concerned that the minor repairs might not extend Castle Bridge’s life long enough to complete construction of a new bridge.


But Uchiyama said that officials were not concerned about that possibility.


The minor repairs will cost $1 to $2 million and make the bridge last three to five more years, Uchiyama said. That’s enough time to plan, fund, study and get right of way for a new bridge, a bridge that will cost between $15 and $20 million.


The minor repairs are expected to begin in the fall still, but an exact date won’t be known until the summer.

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