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A staff report

The construction of the $23.3 million US 701 bridge project in Elizabethtown has been a journey marked by both progress and delays. The new bridge project started in the summer of 2020 with the demolition of one bridge; this project aimed to replace the existing northbound and southbound bridges over the Cape Fear River with a single, four-lane structure equipped with 8-foot shoulders on each side to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians.

Initially slated for completion and full opening to traffic by late spring 2024, the project timeline encountered obstacles along the way. According to Andrew Barksdale of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the project’s delay primarily stems from additional requirements initiated by the Town of Elizabethtown. The town’s request for street lights to be integrated into the bridge design necessitated a redesign of the bridge walls and the inclusion of conduit infrastructure. Furthermore, the procurement of street lights has been hampered by manufacturing backlogs, adding several months to the project timeline.

In addition to the modifications to accommodate street lights, the final phase of the bridge deck work has experienced a slowdown, contributing further to the delay. As a consequence, NCDOT has adjusted its expectations, aiming to complete the project and open all four lanes on the bridge by early 2025.

Smith-Rowe LLC of Mount Airy was awarded the $23.3 million contract by NCDOT in 2020 to undertake this infrastructure project. With a commitment to replacing outdated bridges with a modern, multi-lane structure designed to enhance safety and accessibility for all road users, Smith-Rowe LLC embarked on the construction endeavor.

Despite the setbacks encountered throughout the project, progress continues to be made. The construction of the 1,218-foot bridge, spanning across the Cape Fear River, is a testament to the dedication and perseverance of all involved parties. Once completed, the new bridge will alleviate traffic congestion and provide a safer and more efficient transportation route for residents and visitors alike.

The significance of the US 701 bridge project extends beyond mere infrastructure development. It represents a collaborative effort between government agencies, contractors, and the local community to address the evolving transportation infrastructure needs while ensuring the public’s safety and well-being.

As construction progresses and challenges are overcome, the anticipation for the completion of the US 701 bridge project in Elizabethtown grows. The vision of a modern, functional bridge serving as a vital link in the region’s transportation network draws nearer with each passing day, promising a brighter future for the community and beyond.

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