Archived Story

Making peace with detours ahead

Published 9:33am Friday, September 27, 2013

It seems that everywhere you go in Beaufort County these days, there’s some kind of detour. We’ve driven out of our ways many times on N.C. Highway 33 west of Chocowinity, on U.S. Highway 264 near Pantego, on N.C. Highway 99 near Belhaven, on N.C. Highway 306 in Aurora. Next year, we may be facing a U.S. Highway 17 closure between Chocowinity and Washington — which may lead to a 17-mile detour for those folks trying to get from Chocowinity to Washington and vice versa.

A detour, especially when it’s a detour one has to face every single day, can be a royal pain, costing a driver additional time and peace of mind. But most of these detours we’ve encountered this year are due to one thing: to replace old bridges.

Former Gov. Bev Perdue spearheaded the effort to rebuild aging bridges across North Carolina; NCDOT has awarded 700-plus contracts totaling billions of dollars to get NC bridges up to code.

Sure, we get new bridges, but what we also get is the headache of the detour.

But then you read about a bridge in Wisconsin, a big bridge that carries 40,000 cars per day, a bridge that was only built 30 years ago and declared sound just one year ago. But yesterday, an entire section of that bridge located 120 feet over the Fox River suddenly sagged two feet. Now, it’s been closed indefinitely — a neverending detour.

So, perhaps we should be a little more tolerant of the state’s efforts to be proactive when it comes to bridges and the safety of North Carolina drivers. An extended detour may be a pain, but at least it’s not a tragedy in the making.

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