Plans Accelerated for Replacement Bridge Over Old Mill Pond

NORTH WILKESBORO, NC (January 19, 2017)…The N.C. Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to replace a timber bridge on Falls Avenue over Old Mill Pond in Caldwell County by the end of the year.

Officials decided to accelerate building a replacement bridge instead of enduring the time and expense of fixing broken pilings on the current bridge. The most efficient use of time and funds is to construct a new bridge using an express design-build method.

“We want to move quickly to get a new bridge built,” Division 11 Engineer Mike Pettyjohn said. “We looked at all of the options and this is the best use of time and money.”

Motorists could be travelling on a new bridge by the end of the year if every step of the process maintains an accelerated schedule and weather cooperates. By using the express design-build method, engineers and contractors will be working hand-in-hand on a daily basis to develop details and construct at the same time

The current bridge suffered damage to three pilings on Oct. 4, 2016. Bridge engineers inspected the bridge both topside and under water and found that repairs would be extensive. An estimate from one construction company put the cost of repairs at a minimum $875,000, and the emergency work would keep the bridge closed until at least late March.

But due to the expense and extensive preparation needed to make the repairs, officials chose to accelerate plans for building a new bridge. The old wooden bridge was built in 1949 and hadn’t seen significant upgrades since it opened. An average of 5,300 vehicles per day crossed Old Mill Pond, according to the most recent traffic survey. Motorists have been using a 6.3-mile detour since October and will do so until the new bridge is open.

The next step in the process is putting the project up for bid next month. Then designing will begin and last about three months before construction starts in May. The aggressive schedule includes three months for design and eight months to complete construction.

This bridge had been included in a group of bridges to be replaced all at the same time in upcoming years. Due to the immediate need, transportation officials removed it from that package contract and will now be able to open bidding on this bridge as a single item.

“We take great pride in keeping our roads, bridges and other structures as safe as possible,” Pettyjohn said. “This new bridge will be able to move people, goods and services across our area for decades to come.”