By Charlotte Smith
Both lanes on the southbound US 701 bridge over the Cape Fear River in Elizabethtown have reopened after one lane was closed Tuesday for an inspection. According to Andrew Barksdale with North Carolina Department of Transportation, Drew Cox, Division 6 maintenance engineer said the need to reduce traffic on the 701 southbound bridge to one lane on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. was in order to do safety inspections and monitor the bridge because of the recent flooding and the small debris field that has collected again.
Barksdale stated, “We have no reason to be believe there is anything wrong with the southbound bridge, but we want to exercise due caution. We also want to adjust an instrument we have installed on the bridge to help us monitor the bridge’s substructures and bents and columns.”
He added, “As for the new debris field that has collected around it, we also plan to get another contractor out there to remove it. Because it’s a much smaller debris field (compared to the last one), we do not anticipate any need to close the southbound bridge while the debris field is removed. We have to wait until the floodwaters recede before we can remove the debris field. I don’t have a timeline yet on when the debris field will be removed.”
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.
Barksdale assured BladenOnline on Wednesday morning of the safety of the bridge. He stated, “The inspection went well, and we were able to verify everything with the bridge and substructures were in good shape and had not been affected by the recent flooding or the current debris pile. Safety for the traveling public is paramount, we would not have reopened both lanes yesterday, unless the bridge was safe.”