07/15/2024
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A staff report

The Town of Elizabethtown’s request for the addition of streetlights to the US 701 Highway Bridge over the Cape Fear River has led to a delay in the project’s completion. According to Andrew Barksdale from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the town made the request in the fall of 2023, prompting a redesign of the project and the need to order 18 to 20 light poles.

Barksdale explained, “We agreed to their request, which required redesigning the project and ordering 18 to 20 light poles. All of this took several months to redesign and also to have the poles manufactured. We have to install the poles, the conduit, and also a power source. So, the original completion had been late May 2024, but due to all of this additional work, the new completion date has been pushed back to spring 2025.”

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 Their commitment to replacing outdated bridges with a modern, multi-lane structure designed to enhance safety and accessibility for all road users has driven the construction effort.

Despite setbacks, progress continues on the 1,218-foot bridge, which will span the Cape Fear River. This project aims to alleviate traffic congestion and provide a safer, more efficient transportation route for residents and visitors. The new bridge, equipped with four lanes and 8-foot shoulders on each side to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians, promises to be a significant improvement over the old structure.

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 evolving transportation infrastructure needs while ensuring public safety and well-being.

Initially slated for completion and full opening to traffic by late spring 2024, the project timeline has been extended due to the added streetlight installation. The construction journey, marked by both progress and delays, began in the summer of 2020 with the demolition of the old bridges. As challenges are overcome, anticipation grows for the completion of the new bridge, which will serve as a vital link in the region’s transportation network.

The vision of a modern, functional bridge in Elizabethtown is drawing nearer, promising a brighter future for the community and beyond. The $23.3 million project, once completed, will stand as a testament to the dedication and perseverance of all involved parties.

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