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Highly Anticipated Bridge Opens…Vehicles driving on Falls Avenue ahead of schedule

NORTH WILKESBORO, NC (December 22, 2017)…The preparation, demolition and construction of a new bridge on Falls Avenue is complete.

The bridge is now open to traffic.

N.C. Department of Transportation engineers conducted an inspection of the bridge over Old Mill Pond on Friday morning and declared the bridge safe for traffic.

“The time we spent on the front end planning this bridge paid off in the end with a completion date well ahead of the contract completion date, and right in line with our expectations,” Division 11 Engineer Mike Pettyjohn said. “The design team spent many long days creating the plans for this important bridge and R.E. Burns and Sons took that momentum and worked diligently to meet these expectations.”

Old Mill Pond Bridge on 12-17-2017

Several finishing touches remain before the construction is declared complete. The causeway will be removed, a final layer of asphalt will be placed, permanent paint markings will be sprayed and landscaping will be finished in the spring.

A bridge of this size — 40 feet wide, 400 feet long with two center pilings and a 5.5-foot sidewalk on the east side — typically takes 36 months to go from a concept to completion. Less than 15 months elapsed from the day the previous 67-year-old predecessor suffered damage until today.

“The express-design process worked,” Pettyjohn said. “The early work takes place with the designer and contractor hard at work making plans for the new bridge.”

The old bridge was made of wood and was built in 1949 and it carried an average of 5,300 vehicles per day in 2014. NCDOT officials considered making short-term repairs, but those proved to be inefficient. Building a new bridge on an accelerated schedule was determined to be the most efficient use of time and funds. The cost of the new bridge was $3.2 million.

“The bridge is in place to meet the needs now and decades into the future,” Pettyjohn said.  “We are pleased to have it open and we know many other people are happy too.”

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on Twitter.

Old Mill Pond Bridge 10-04-2016 01

Press Release by David Uchiyama of the NCDOT

Photos by the Caldwell Journal

We really need to thank David Uchiyama of the NCDOT for keeping us informed about the progress of the Old Mill Bridge from start to finish.

We also want to thank the contractor R.E. Burns & Sons Company, Inc. for answering all of our questions throughout the build as well and for their hospitality.  Their crews did an amazing job.

Now we have one of the finest and newest bridges in the state right here in Granite Falls.

Mark Jackson – Caldwell Journal