NORTH WILKESBORO, NC (October 27, 2016)…N.C. Department of Transportation officials have made two decisions regarding the bridge on Falls Avenue over Old Millpond.
The first is that temporary repairs will be made. Officials have also made a long-range decision to replace the bridge.
In the meantime, the bridge that carried an average of 5,700 people in a day during 2014 will be closed until repairs are completed which is a process that will last into 2017.
“We don’t know exactly how extensive the repairs are going to be,” Bridge Maintenance Supervisor Andrew Glasco said. “We don’t know yet if we’re going to have to completely drain the lake, lower its level a little bit. A lot of it depends on the inspectors from Raleigh.”
A different team of transportation engineers is beginning the process to develop and design a new bridge that could be in place three to five years from now. Creating a new bridge in a location such as Falls Avenue requires extensive long-term planning before any sort of design is agreed upon.
The safety and repair of aging bridges is a component of Governor Pat McCrory’s 25-year Vision for transportation in North Carolina. Governor McCrory’s 2016-17 budget increases repair and replacement funding for bridges by 58 percent, totaling $242 million.
The current 67-year old bridge over Old Millpond Lake is built of concrete, steel and timber. Transportation officials closed the bridge on Oct. 5 for safety concerns when one of the spans began to sag 8-10 inches. Subsequent inspections found three of four piles on that span were damaged — the cause remains unknown — and that they can be repaired while the creating of a new bridge is designed, developed and built.
“The short of it is that we’re going to fix the bridge,” Glasco said, “and we’re going to build a new bridge that will hopefully last another 75 years.”