Bridge should open early

Published 3:39 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Contributing Editor

The new bridge over Runyon Creek at Havens Gardens should be opened to traffic by July 4, according to a N.C. Department of Transportation official.
“I think that is very realistic,” said William Kincannon, a DOT engineer familiar with the project, on Monday.
Kincannon said the project likely will be completed before then, probably by the end of June.
The N.C. Highway 32 project was scheduled for completion by Dec. 31. Work on the project began last May. According to a DOT report, the project’s progress is at 81.6 percent, or 3.6 percent ahead of scheduled progress.
“The project is ahead of schedule and a little under budget. … You are going to have a nice, little project there when it’s done,” Kincannon said.
While the bulk of the $2.82 million, 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. The project contract was awarded to Sanford Contractors of Sanford.
When pilings for the new bridge were driven, the contractor also drove pilings for a promenade that will go under the new bridge.
The walkway is part of an overall plan to improve and reconfigure 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.
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 this bracket: ].
The walkway, which will have observations areas, 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 sections of Havens Garden south of the highway.
While the segment of the walkway directly under the new bridge will be concrete, the northern and southern ends of the walkway will be timber.
Meanwhile, engineering work associated with replacing the Brown Street bridge remains under way.
Earlier this year, the city hired Ramey Kemp &Associates to perform engineering and other services necessary to replace the Brown Street bridge. The firm is working on obtaining the environmental permits needed for the project, said Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director.
“They’re about two weeks from completing the draft planning document,” Lewis said Monday.
Copies of that draft will be sent to the 18 agencies — federal and state — that are required to review the draft plan and comment on it. After that initial review process is completed and comments sent to the firm, it will develop the final planning document within a couple of weeks, Lewis said.
When that final planning document is prepared, the city and DOT will receive copies of it, he said.
The project — an estimate the city got in March 2009 put the project cost at about $600,000 — will be paid for with a combination of federal funds — allocated by the N.C. Department of Transportation — and local funds.
Plans call for the existing bridge to be replaced with a new bridge instead of box culverts, which had been considered as an option for replacing the existing bridge.
The project is included in the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan. DOT’s program to repair or replace bridges in municipalities provides federal funds for 80 percent of the project cost, with the remaining 20 percent in funding to be provided by the municipality participating in a project. The TIP allocates $500,000 in funding for the project. The TIP also requires the city to provide $100,000 toward the project.
In October 2006, the bridge’s continuing deterioration caused the city to close the bridge for additional assessments to determine if it was feasible to repair or replace it. Motorists and several residents who live near the bridge complained about the bridge closure, saying it was an inconvenience. They asked that it be repaired or replaced.