The US Highway 701 bridge in Elizabethtown is extremely important to the economy in Bladen County. The North Carolina Department of Transportation emergency repair project to the bridge has a lot of people concerned and asking questions.
NCDOT Public Relations Officer for Divisions 4 and 6, Mobility and Safety Officer Andrew Barksdale announced Friday morning an update from the resident engineer for Bladen-Columbus counties on the US 701 North bridge closure.
Barksdale confirmed the bent (sometimes referred to as a “pier” – see linked diagram), has shifted out of place due to past hurricane flooding.
Barksdale gave the NCDOT plans to address the issue.
He said, “We will build a new bent next to the shifted one; then remove the shifted one. We plan to advertise for bidders late next week, and then award a contract by late January to a contractor who will perform this work.”
The contract will have a Sept. 1, 2020 completion date to reopen the bridge, according to Barksdale.
This date assumes there will be at least some days this year when, due to heavy rains, the river is too high to work in.
The new bent will be built on dry land, but in heavy rains, an elevated river can cover up the bent. Because the end bent will be constructed on dry land, the construction moratorium in the river during the summertime does not apply, according to Barksdale’s report.
He added, “This same contractor will also fix the scouring by placing 44,000 tons of rock along the north bank of both the 701 North and 701 South bridge.”
“Although adding rock (rip-rap) will require construction in the river, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted us permission to perform this work anyway during the summer because of the emergency need to make these repairs and reopen the bridge,” Barksdale said in closing.