Belhaven council approves bridge replacement

Published 10:47 pm Wednesday, May 14, 2008

By Staff
Residents say bridge is ‘essential’ to them
Staff Writer
BELHAVEN — The renovations and changes in town continue.
Just weeks after a feasibility study for a new breakwater was approved at state and federal levels, the Belhaven Town Council approved the replacement of Wynne’s Gut Bridge.
The council, during its meeting Monday, weighed the options of repairing, replacing or removing the bridge. It decided, after much discussion, to replace the decrepit bridge.
The action came in the wake of an April 17 inspection of the bridge by the N.C. Department of Transportation’s bridge maintenance unit. The bridge received a score of eight points out of 100 points, forcing the unit to give the town a “prompt action notice” regarding the bridge’s condition.
The inspector recommended that the rusting web beams supporting the bridge be given “prompt attention.”
Although the bridge is not in immediate danger of collapsing, it needs to be replaced, according to Guinn Leverett, interim town manager.
The council conducted a public hearing regarding the bridge before deciding to replace it.
Nina Dillon, a Belhaven resident, lobbied to replace the bridge.
Belhaven Fire Chief Derrick Myers used an example in his lobbying effort to keep the bridge.
It will cost an estimated $1 million to replace the bridge, with 80 percent of the cost funded by the state and 20 percent by the town.
With replacement of the bridge approved, the town’s next step is to hire a state approved bridge consultant, according to Leverett.
To hire a consultant to deal with the bridge’s replacement contract, the council must work with Dan Holderman, the state’s bridge-maintenance engineer.
To find the ideal bridge consultant, Leverett said, the town will place an advertisement on a list of state-approved consultants.
After that step is taken, another step is required.
The process of designing and constructing the bridge is meticulous, he said.
Leverett cautioned the council can’t afford to get ahead of itself when it comes to replacing the bridge.