Council and DOT

Published 10:25 pm Saturday, January 17, 2009

By Staff
discuss walkway
under new bridge
Would join areas of Havens Garden separated by road
By Mike Voss
Contributing Editor
Washington officials and state transportation officials are trying to avoid unnecessary expenses to replace the bridge at Havens Garden.
When the contractor hired to build the new N.C. Highway 32 bridge over Runyon Creek begins driving pilings for that project, Washington wants that contractor, if possible, to drive pilings for a walkway it wants to build under the bridge. That may be possible, N.C. Department of Transportation officials told city officials Friday.
The walkway would connect parts of Havens Garden that are separated by the highway, allowing pedestrians to move between those areas without crossing the highway. The walkway also would connect boat ramps north of the highway to parts of Havens Garden south of the highway.
Preliminary plans call for the walkway to be built over Runyon Creek, with the walkway connecting to land on the west bank of the creek. The walkway, estimated to be about 300 feet long, would form something like a bracket. Engineering specifications for the walkway have not been drawn up, and the city has no formal estimates on the project’s cost. The city plans to seek grant funds to pay for the walkway.
If the city can obtain the needed Coastal Area Management Act permit required for the project, DOT is willing to work with the city so pilings for the bridge and walkway can be installed at the same time, perhaps by the same contractor, Marvin Blount III, a member of the N.C. Board of Transportation, said at the meeting. That could save the city money on its project, he said.
A problem could arise if the state requires the replacement bridge to be built before the city can begin its walkway project. The bridge and walkway will require separate permits, according to Ed Eatmon, a DOT engineer who attended the meeting. But that does not necessarily mean that parts of the two projects cannot proceed at the same time, he said.
The city’s project cannot interfere with DOT’s contract for the bridge project, Eatmon said. The contract for that project likely will be awarded in March, with construction beginning sometime in mid-June
City officials said they do not want the walkway project to slow down or prevent the bridge project from proceeding, even if that means waiting for the bridge to be built before beginning the walkway project.
The walkway would be part of an overall plan to improve Havens Garden after the new bridge is built. Those proposed improvements include upgrading the boat ramp and a parking area north of the existing highway.
Building the new bridge, which will be higher and longer than the existing span, will require some of the Havens Garden land, for which DOT will have to compensate the city.