Bypass pile driving will resume next week|Work also begins to replace bridge over Runyon Creek

Published 12:46 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Contributing Editor

Pile-driving work for the 2.8-mile bridge component of the U.S. Highway 17 bypass project should resume next Tuesday, said Mark Mallett, project manager for Flatiron/United, project contractor.
“We’re getting ready for that now,” Mallett said Monday. “We’re scheduled to restart in the river next week.”
The project’s pile-driving work ceased at midnight Feb. 14. Flatiron/United’s permit required it to stop driving pilings into the Tar River from Feb. 15 to June 15. Flatiron/United asked the state to lift that moratorium, which would have sped up the project, Mallett said in early February.
The moratorium was implemented to protect specific species of fish as they swim upriver to spawn.
Terms of a modified permit issued to the N.C. Department of Transportation in late February allowed limited pile-driving operations to resume once a plan was completed to study the effects of those operations on certain species of fish. The state rejected the initial proposed plan as inadequate.
Subsequently, the state and Flatiron/United were unable to reach an agreement that would have allowed the pile-driving operations to resume during the four-month moratorium.
The project is running a 3.53 percent cost overrun, according to the latest DOT construction progress report. That report lists the project’s scheduled progress at 76.1 percent, but also lists actual progress at 85.79 percent. The scheduled completion date is November 2010.
“Most of the road work is completed. … There’s lots left to be done,” Mallett said.
As he said earlier this year, there’s a good chance the project will be completed ahead of schedule.
“We’re … optimistic we will beat that deadline,” Mallett said.. “It depends on how much good weather we get this summer and fall.”
Construction on the $192 million project began in March 2007. The bypass, a 6.8-mile project stretching from Price Road near Chocowinity to Springs Road at Washington, is the first highway project in Beaufort County to be constructed using the design-build method.
According to DOT, that method reduces a project’s completion time by contracting a single firm to simultaneously design and construct the project.
The project is DOT’s most-expensive project to date, according to Maria Rogerson, a DOT spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, another project involving a bridge is under way.
With work to replace the bridge that spans Runyon Creek at Havens Gardens under way, motorists who routinely used the existing bridge are forced to take detours.
The N.C. Department of Transportation awarded the $2.8 million contract to replace the N.C. Highway 32 bridge over Runyon Creek between Washington and Washington Park to Sanford Contractors of Sanford. Work began May 27, with the project expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2010.
While the new bridge is being built, the existing bridge is closed to traffic before it’s torn down. Detour signs were erected to aid motorists traveling on N.C. 32. Motorists traveling east on N.C. 32 will turn left onto Hudnell Street, right onto U.S. Highway 264 and right onto Brick Kiln Road to reach N.C. 32 on the east side of the creek. Westbound motorists will follow the reverse route around the construction site.
While the bulk of the quarter-mile project calls for replacing the bridge, it also includes grading, drainage and paving work mostly associated with approaches to both ends of the new bridge.
With the existing bridge closed, organizers of the Not 2 Hot 2 Trot 5K race associated with this weekend’s Summer Festival have redrawn the route for the race.