04/17/2024
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In February last year, the North Carolina Department of Transportation announced they were considering replacing the bridges over the Cape Fear River in Elizabethtown on U.S. Highway 701. The highway’s southbound bridge has been closed since Hurricane Florence hit Bladen County in September 2018. A log jam under the bridge caused a costly North Carolina Department of Transportation issue.

NCDOT District Engineer Kenneth Clark provided an update on the U.S. Highway 701 north and southbound bridges’ demolition and new construction. According to Clark’s report, in October, the new bridge’s construction began. It is being completed in phases. The new bridge is being constructed over the old northbound bridge.  

Once this phase is complete, traffic will be moved to the new structure, and the old southbound bridge will be demolished. The final step will complete the new bridge’s construction and provide the typical section, allowing a four-lane roadway divided by a raised median located on a single structure. 

Andrew Barksdale with NCDOT gave an update on the bridges’ construction today. 

Barksdale stated, “Our contractor has now begun the process of drilling what will be a total of 28 shafts into the ground to support the new, four-lane bridge. Each shaft will be massive – 6 feet wide and at least 120 feet deep. It will take until this summer or early fall (2021) to complete the drilling of all of these shafts.” View the NCDOT diagram by clicking here.

He continued, “Along the way, as they complete a shaft, the contractor will pour a mixture of steel and concrete into the shafts to give it a firm foundation.” Then he added, “Later, a concrete column (or pile – see attached basic bridge diagram that I personally use) will be set into each shaft. These columns will be used to support the bridge structure, including the girders and driving deck.”

 

Barksdale reported the NCDOT plans to shift traffic off the South Bound bridge onto the new bridge’s two new lanes by spring or summer 2022. 

He explained this will allow the jackhammering demolition of the old bridges and the completion of the four-lane bridge construction. 

 

Barksdale stated, “Also, you’ll see the contractor is jack hammering away the final two columns still in the river from the demolished North Bound bridge. We will completely remove those final two columns and, thus, everything associated with the North Bound bridge by mid-Feb.”

The new bridge will have 8′ shoulders between the edge of travel and the bridge rail to accommodate bicycles. The completion date for the work is May 2024.

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