9-10-2021 – NCDOT planning to repair 321 southbound bridge

Posted on: September 10th, 2021 by admin

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September 10, 2021

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By CANDICE SIMMONS CSIMMONS@NEWSTOPICNEWS.COM

Sep 9, 2021

 

Drivers who regularly travel from Caldwell County into Hickory will face a daily, long-running headache next spring as work begins to make structural repairs to the bridge that carries the southbound lanes of U.S. 321 over Lake Hickory.

 

Plans to widen U.S. 321 between Hickory and Lenoir call for eventually replacing the bridge entirely, but before that will happen repairs are needed to keep the bridge operating safely, the N.C. Department of Transportation said.

 

The bridge, built in 1962, was last inspected in April and was deemed structurally deficient due to excessive corrosion to the steel support beams and because of potholes, and it was deemed functionally obsolete due to the narrowness of the bridge.

 

Tim Sherrill, a preservation and repair engineer with the NCDOT Structures Management Unit, said the repairs include mending excessive corrosion of the steel metal beams due to years of water, salt and brine, and repairing asphalt corrosions and potholes along the deck of the bridge.

 

“I know ‘structurally deficient’ and ‘functionally obsolete’ sounds very scary. Those are just terms based on federal guidelines. It does not mean that the bridge is not safe, we just need improvements,” Sherrill said.

 

The project is being designed to contract out in December, Sherrill said.

 

Plans on how to direct traffic are still in development, he said.

 

“It’s not final but we’re trying to see about doing some of the work at night,” he said. “At times, we may shift all traffic to a two-lane road on the northbound bridge, and at times we may close down just one lane on the southbound side.”

 

The NCDOT anticipates completing the repairs next summer.

 

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

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